Sunday, January 22, 2012


Carnitas is on of my favorite dishes to order at a Mexican restaurant.  Now, when I say Mexican restaurant, I'm not talking about Taco Bell.  I'm talking about the small, one-of-a-kind places you can find spread along the southern border from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to San Diego.  I'm talking real, authentic Mexican food that tastes good.  If you've ever tried one of these places, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Carnitas (which means "little meats" in Spanish)  is basically just boneless pork shoulder that has been simmered until it is fall-apart tender and then roasted to produce a crispy outer layer.  Some people swear that the only thing that should go in the pan is pork, water, salt, and pepper.  Other people add all different kinds of spices and even some citrus in the form of oranges and/or orange juice.  I'm a middle-of-the-road type guy myself.  I like the simplicity of the pork, but with a little bit of added flavor meant to enhance the dish, not overpower it.

As with any good thing though, you will have to wait.  When I made this last weekend, I started it on the stove at around 1:45 PM.  I finally pulled the finished carnitas out of the oven at around 7:00 PM.  But let me tell you, the wait was definitely worth it.  I could have eaten these on a plate with just a side of rice and beans.  Instead I decided to go a step further and roll the meat up with some rice (I used my Chile Cilantro Rice), cheese, and onion in a flour tortilla shell.  It turned out to be one of the best burritos I have ever had.


4-5 lb boneless pork shoulder
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin, ground
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut pork loin into 6-8 large pieces.  Rub pork pieces with salt.  Heat vegetable oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Sear pork, 3-4 pieces at a time, in oil until all sides are browned.  Remove pork and drain on paper towels.

Add 1 cup water to pan and stir in garlic powder, chile powder, ancho chili powder, cumin, bay leaf, and cinnamon.  Add pork back to pan and then add enough water to cover pork about 3/4 of the way (I used a total of about 2-1/2 cups myself).

Bring to a boil and then place Dutch oven, uncovered, in oven.  Braise pork for 3-1/2 hours, stirring hourly, or until pork is very tender.  Remove pan from oven and remove pork.  Allow pork to cool slightly and then break into smaller chunks.  Return pork to pan and pan to oven.  Cook another 1 to 1-1/2 half hours, uncovered, or until liquid is nearly gone and outer edges are lightly crunchy.

1 comment:

  1. I've never had these, but yours look fantastic! I am going to have to try them! Thanks for sharing at Church Supper. Have a blessed week and see you again next Sunday ~EMM


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