It is no secret how much I love Mexican food so it should surprise no one that I seek out recipes for it and sometimes invent my own based on the flavors. I’m not really sure how I came up with this combination of ingredients, but I think it was a compilation of reading on the internet, watching YouTube videos, and deciding which ingredients I wanted to include in my own rendition of a favorite.
Carnitas … you really can’t go wrong with slow roasting a beautiful pork roast and then frying it in a skillet until it develops crispy edges, can you?! The cut you want to purchase is called a pork butt or Boston butt … which makes no sense seeing as how it’s cut from the shoulder and not all pork comes from Boston! To be fair, it is sometimes sensibly called pork shoulder. I like a fair amount of fat marbling in mine, but I try to get one without large pieces. It’s just a personal preference.I wrote this recipe with options for oven roasting, crockpot cooking, and for the pressure cooker because no matter what tools you have in your kitchen, you have to make this simple and delicious dinner. Just salt the pork amply, put it in the pot, add a bit of orange juice, onions, garlic, bay leaves, and oregano … and let it cook. That’s it! If you cook it in the oven, put it on a low temperature for about 4 hours. Start checking it after two hours and look for it to be fork tender … shreddable. If you cook it in the crockpot, cook it on low for 4-5 hours. My crockpot tends to cook hot so setting it on low works for me. Set yours on high if you like. And if you use a digital pressure cooker, set it on high pressure for 45 minutes. It’s a true set-it-and-forget it recipe! I always cut my roast into fist-sized pieces since I’ll be shredding it anyway and it cooks faster that way, too.
When it’s time to eat, shred the pork and put it in a skillet on the stove. Of course, I recommend cast iron or stainless steel and discourage using non-stick skillets. Let the pork render more of its fat and start to crisp up. You want some crispy bits along with some tender ones.
Pile some of the meat onto small corn tortilla shells (homemade, if possible!), sprinkle some onions and cilantro on top and whatever salsa you want. These are topped with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa. Be sure to have lime wedges available … that is icing on the cake!
- 1 4-6 pound pork shoulder, cut into pieces about the size of your fist
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 8 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 chopped onion
- salt and pepper
- chopped cilantro and onion, for serving
- corn tortillas, for serving
- salsa, for serving
- limes, for serving
Season the pieces of pork with salt and pepper and put them in a Dutch oven that has a lid, crockpot, or pressure cooker and add the rest of the ingredients.
If you are braising the pork in the oven, cover the Dutch oven, and bake at 325° for 4-5 hours, until the meat is falling apart tender and easily shredded.
If you are cooking the pork in a crockpot, set it on low, and cook for 4-5 hours.
If you are using a digital pressure cooker, put the lid on, set it to high pressure for 45 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
Once the meat is cooked, pull it apart and put it in a skillet over medium-high heat. Let it render more of its fat and begin to get crispy on the edges. You're looking for a good balance between crispy and tender.
Serve on corn tortillas, topped with cilantro, chopped onion, and the salsa of your choice, and a squeeze of fresh lime.