Carnitas!! Just thinking about slow braised pork, pulled apart and oven roasted until slightly crisp makes my mouth water! Carnitas can be eaten alone or used as a filling in tacos or burritos. I think my family’s favorite way to eat carnitas is when I make “burrito bowls”. I make cilantro lime rice and top with the carnitas and then we pile up the toppings! Black beans, avocado salsa, fresh corn, lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream… the list can go on and on. Trust me it’s good. The combination of the crispy pork and the cool fresh veggies along with the creaminess of the cheese and sour cream is a flavor explosion!
Traditionally carnitas are braised in oil or lard. While I do appreciate traditional Mexican cuisine, I wanted to find a way to keep all the great flavors I love when having carnitas but try to make it a little healthier. So I don’t braise the pork in oil or lard… I just slowly cook the pork shoulder all day in lots of yummy spices and fresh citrus. Yes I said fresh citrus! Limes are the obvious choice but I also use oranges and a splash of orange juice. It might sound weird but trust me it’s delicious!!! The lime and orange really help break down and tenderize the pork during the braising and also adds a brightness to the flavor of the pork. I really enjoy the hint of orange and lime and I think it really enhances the overall taste of the meat.
Braising the carnitas does take awhile so this is definitely a plan ahead meal to make. But if you make enough it makes for great leftovers! So I usually make the carnitas over the weekend when I have the time and then I save the leftovers for later on in the week for a easy weeknight dinner! Two meals in one!! I love when I can stretch out my grocery budget and make two full meals out of one purchase. And the carnitas are so good they don’t even taste like leftovers!
These carnitas are so full of flavor and so deliciously luscious that your family will ask you to make them over and over again!
5-6 pound bone-in pork butt (Boston butt)
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs oregano
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs chili powder
4 cloves peeled garlic
2-Chipotle peppers in adobo, diced
1 roasted whole jalapeño, diced
Salt and pepper
2 oranges – halved and juiced
2 limes- quartered and juiced
1 onion – peeled and quartered
Preheat oven to 275 degrees
Rinse pork and pat dry with paper towels
Combine all dry seasonings and massage into pork
Place pork butt in a roasting pan and arrange the squeezed lime and orange rinds,onion,garlic, chipotle pepper, and jalapeño around the pork.
Pour the juice from the limes and oranges in the pan and cover with aluminum foil and bake for 5 hours until meat is tender.
Remove meat from the pan using a slotting spoon and shred.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil and place shredded pork on the baking sheet and return pork to oven under broiler for several minutes until crispy. Careful not to dry out meat.
Serve carnitas on flour or corn tortillas and top with diced onion and cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime.