Written by Ken
Ken's Carnitas Recipe
1 - 6 to 8 lb Pork shoulder (bone in)
1 small onion
1 celery stalk
4 cloves garlic
a handful of Cilantro
1 tablespoon Oregano
2 tablespoons oil or bacon fat
2 tablespoons Chili powder
1 tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
Combine all 6 ingredients in a small bowl.
Large skillet (preferably cast iron)
Large stock pot (8 to 12 quart)
Heavy duty fork
Baking sheet or Roasting pan
I have made Caritas many times because I love Mexican food so much. After researching many recipes I was able to figure out the basic concept but I found that there were many subtle differences in style and seasoning. The end result can vary slightly depending upon how it is seasoned before it is braised and what you add to the liquid while it is braising. Since there doesn't seem to be a standard for any of it, Some people braise the meat on the stove while other people use a dutch oven and slow cook it in their oven. What people use to season their meat with is all over the map and what they add to the liquid seems to be whatever is on hand... So, with that philosophy in mind, I created "Ken's Carnitas Recipe" - Ken
What to do:
Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl and use enough of this mixture to coat the outside of your pork shoulder. Leave the pork shoulder whole and do not start to trim the fat. Just coat is generously with the seasoning. (if you have time, do this the day before and allow it to marinate overnight)
put a couple of tablespoons of oil or bacon fat inot your skillet and get it hot. Sear the pork shoulder on all sides using your heavy duty fork to turn it onto all sides. Sear it completely and do not rush this step, it should take at least 20 minutes. When you have filled your kitchen with the smell of cooking pork and you have caramelized the pork shoulder all over, you are done searing. Now put the pork shoulder into the stock pot and add water to just above the level of the meat.
Salt the water (1 tablespoon per quart of water). Add the garlic cloves (whole, skin and all). Cut the carrot and Celery into 2 or 3 peices, cut the onion in half and add these to the pot. Add your handful of Cilantro and the tablespoon of Oregano. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 hours. Check the liquid level once an hour and adjust as needed.
After about 3 hours, the meat should be getting tender. What you a looking for is how easily will the bone come out? using some tongs, check to see if you can remove the bone with one hand. When you can remove the bone easily, Using your fork remove the roast from the stock pot and place it in a large bowl. Cover this bowl with plastic wrap and allow the meat to rest. (it is still cooking and is too hot to handle with your hands, allowing it to rest and cool will help redistribute the meat juices and you end up with a more consistant texture throughout the meat)
Reserve the cooking liquid in your pot. It is useful later. Strain the liquid to remove the vegetables. You will use a small amount later when you broil the meat. Use it for making rice or as a liquid for other mexican sauces. Where else are you going to get Pork Broth! Don't waste it if you don't have to.
Let the meat rest for about an hour, or until you can handle it with your hands. Assuming you have washed your hands first, begin to break the meat up and remove it from the larger pieces of fat. Lay these pieces of meat onto a baking sheet or roasting pan.
Turn on your broiler
Season the meat with salt and pepper and a little dry oregano. Broil until the tips of the meat begin to brown.
Remove the meat from the oven, stir to turn it over and check to see if the pan is dry and the meat is sticking, if so, add a small amount of your cooking liquid, season again and put it back under the broiler. You may need to repeat these steps a couple of times until the meat has browned enough.
Now you are ready to do something with it!
Take this meat off of the baking sheet and put it on a cutting board. Chop it up with a large cleaver or chef's knife into bite size pieces and put it into a serving dish or heated container for serving.
Serve with Tortillas, Pico de Gallo, Salsa, Guacamole, Beans and Rice.
Note - This is a great way to do Carnitas. I love it so much that this recipe was one of the reasons why I created this website. When I make Mexican food, I usually don't make just one thing because it is an all day love affair no matter what you are making! So, I say "make it all, and invite the neighbors"