Pork Carnitas

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Pork carnitas only sound complicated to make but if you plan ahead you can easily put together an impressive meal that requires minimal hands-on time.  The actual cooking time is lengthy so this is a meal that I am most likely to make on a weekend when I am home. However, you could easily cook them in a crock pot set on high for 6 hours then proceed to the final step of cooking off the water on the stove top.

I’ve eaten them many times but had never made my own and now that I’ve done it, this recipe will become a regular item on my menus.  You can just as easily feed a few or a crowd; your only restriction is the size of your pan.  Flavors can also be adjusted by adding more or less spices; it all depends upon your personal preferences.  After reading several recipes for carnitas, my results are a hybrid of what I came across.  As is often the case, I cook standing over my spice drawer and add whatever flavors inspire me at the moment.

I served the carnitas with a store-bought tomato salsa but think these would be even better with a homemade peach or even mango salsa.  That will be next time but for the moment, we enjoyed these as is and I’m sure you will to.

PORK CARNITAS

3 pounds pork shoulder

zest of two oranges

10 garlic cloves, minced

1 large red onion, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

2 whole cinnamon sticks

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

12 tortillas, flour or corn

cilantro, optional

salsa, optional

  • Trim any excess fat from the pork.  Cut the meat into 1 inch pieces and place in a large pot.
  • Add the orange zest, garlic, chopped onion, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, bay leaves, oregano, salt, and ground cloves.  Cover the meat with water by two inches.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours skimming the surface as needed until the meat is soft.  If necessary, add additional water to keep the meat fully submerged.
  • Season with additional salt if desired and continue to cook until all of the water is evaporated, approximately 1/2 an hour more.  Cook, stirring often, a little longer if you prefer the meat to be crisper.
  • Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and serve the meat on top of tortillas with cilantro and salsa if desired.

Serves 6

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