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Carnitas...anybody have a good recipe?

  • j

looking for a good recipe for Carnitas, to make carnitas tacos at home...anybody?

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  1. Epicurious.com has an awesome recipe that uses cognac and oranges. I had my doubts, but it turned out amazingly and everyone loved them. Crispy edges, juicy meat, amazing flavor.

    Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

    Image: http://www.chezpei.com/uploaded_image...

    4 Replies
    1. re: nooodles

      That does sound strange for Carnitas, but I'll try and report back

      1. re: nooodles

        I have a similar recipe (also uses country pork ribs)
        but you may want to substitute something less strong for brandy
        I can't recall what the recipe I have uses.

        1. re: nooodles

          Agreed...I thought this sounded odd as well but they were by far the best carnitas I've ever eaten. The leftovers were astonishingly good as well...flavorful, moist, crispy bits. Just wonderful stuff.

          1. re: nooodles

            When I'm not feeling industrious and cooking carnitas as close to authentic as I can (a Michoacan recipe using pork shoulder braised in lard, sour orange juice, garlic, Coke (to replace a type of Mexican rock sugar),etc. I agree with Nooodles -this is also the recipe I use. Something about the sugar in the cognac and the orange juice caramelizing with the pork is an excellent and close-enough recipe. I linked to the last post on Carnitas I remember (tho there have been more recent ones).

            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          2. I have made the recipe from SizzlingJoe that he posted on Chowhound several times and it tastes wonderful. Tender inside and the best crunchy and carmalized outside!

            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            1. Here is my recipe. I combined the ingredients for Cuban Pork Roast with a technique for making Carnitas and it is a real crowd pleaser. Enjoy!

              6 pound pork shoulder roast (boned) – can use shoulder or shoulder butt
              1/2 cup olive oil
              1 to 2 Tbs. ground cumin
              1 to 2 Tbs. ground allspice
              1 bunch fresh oregano
              1 orange (for zest & juice)
              1 lemon (for juice)
              3-4 garlic cloves chopped
              3 Bay Leaves
              Salt & Pepper

              Preheat oven to 375

              1.Cut pork into 4 inch pieces. Season with salt & Pepper.

              2.Sear in half of the olive oil in a skillet or dutch oven on a medium-high burner until light brown on all sides. Okay to do this in batches. Place seared pork in roasting pan.

              3.Zest orange and reserve. Cut orange and lemon into halves and squeeze orange and lemon over pork and reserve. Sprinkle cumin and allspice all over pork and additional salt and pepper if desired.

              4.Sprinkle the chopped garlic and orange zest over pork on top of pork.

              5.Place one sprig of fresh oregano on top of each piece of pork.

              6.Add the three bay leaves and the squeezed orange and lemon to the pan.

              7.Drizzle a little (very little) olive oil over the pork.

              8.Cover pan tightly – with lid or foil.

              9.Roast for about 90 minutes. Remove from oven and inspect – there should be a lot of liquid in the pan.

              10.Continue to roast, with lid slightly askew or a small hole in the foil for up to 30 minutes more, turning the pork a few times to brown on all sides. While the bottom of the pan can be very dark brown, it is important not to burn.

              11.When most if not all the liquid is gone, the pork is ready. Place in a bowl and if you want ‘stringy’ carnitas, mash with the back of a spoon or pull apart with a fork.

              For extra flavor:

              12.If the ‘liquor’ in bottom of the pan is not ‘burned’ remove orange, lemon and pour off grease from roasting pan. Add about 1 cup of water to the pan - enough to cover completely by at least ½ inch. Place pan on burner on high and scrape up any crispy bits and pan liquor from bottom of pan. Reduce liquid by 50% - to about ½ cup. Pour liquid over carnitas. Mix in well. Let stand covered for about 15 minutes.

              This can be done ahead – in the morning for an evening meal. Just refrigerate after the carnitas cools and put into oven for about 20 minutes to reheat. While there are a lot of steps listed here, this is very easy to do.

              1. I asked the same question a while back and got a lot of great replies. Link is below.

                Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                1. The traditional way is about as easy as any other method. If you want the great flavor you get at good mexican restaurants, then I'd be extremely suspect of odd ingredients you find in lots of recipes. Coke is fairly traditional. But beyond that...

                  It is most often as easy as three ingredients: pork shoulder, lard and orange peel. Here's what I do:

                  Cut the pork shoulder into large chunks (about 3" x 3"). Throw into a pot. Add in lard, just enough to barely cover. Throw in the peel of one orange. Cook on a very low simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours, until it is fork tender. Then, crank up the heat. Watch it closely. As soon as it gets nicely browned, remove to paper towels, salt and, break into chunks to serve.

                  That's it. Amazing stuff...

                  Doing anything more elaborate just seems, well, not worth it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: adamclyde

                    So, leaving the shoulder whole is a no-no?
                    Can you use pork butt instead of shoulder?

                  2. In Los Angeles, around Olympic and Alameda, you can get traditional copper pots that are used to make carnitas. When I was a snotty nosed kid, I remember that old men in the neighborhood would make carnitas in an old copper pot for special occasions. They would use pork shoulder, cut up into large chunks, and fry in fat and a bit of water. Essentially the meat would be cooked by the water, and when that evaporated, would then be fried by the lard. They would add salt, a few cut up oranges and some coca cola to the mix as the flavoring agents. I always saw this cooked outside, over an open flame, as certain amounts of spillage was possible. Once the carnitas were tender and a bit pinkish-brown on the inside and crispy and well done on the outside they were considered done and pulled out to be devoured. At that time, other things were added to the pot: the skin of the pig for cueritos and various other parts such as ears, tails, kidneys and the like--all fried to a glorious state. While all of this might be a bit much for todays day and age (this was done when a pig was slaughtered or was bought whole from a butcher), especially given that excellent carnita places are around, I am going to try and replicate the style and flavor(s) of home made carnitas in the next week or so.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ickster

                      Hi everyone! I'm a new member here, though I occasionally lurk.

                      I know this is an old thread, but I came across it on a google search looking for a great carnitas recipe. I found this thread and the epicurious recipe just last week. Today when I click on the link, there's an entirely different recipe--one without cognac and that has relatively poor reviews. Can someone post the recipe? I bought pork ribs just to make this recipe. . .


                    2. This is the best Carnitas recipe I have ever tried
                      Debbie and I recently aquired a Pork Carnitas recipe that is out of this world so I wanted to share with any of you who may be Mexican food fans. These are not to spicy but you can make them so later.

                      3 -4 lbs pork shoulder cut into 1 -2 inch cubes with the big pieces of fat trimmed off ( you will need some of it for flavor so dont trim it all off) Make your spice mix as such - 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp of cumin seed grnd fresh then roasted slightly in a pan, i tsp chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, mix and put it in a dutch oven with the pork & toss it then brown it.with enough lard to cover bottom After it is browned, remove meat, deglaze the dutch oven ( or heavy pan) with 3/4 cup orange juice stirring to break up the goodies in the bottom.. Put the meat back in and cover just to top of meat with water, then lid it and cook at 300 in oven for two hours, check it for tenderness after two hrs. It may be tender enough to shred, if not cook another hour or whatever is needed. Take tender pork out, let cool slightly and shred by hand. ( save the braising liquid from the dutch oven, it will come in handy) put the shredded pork on a flat pizza pan or ?? and put in broiler on high up close to the broiler ( top rack) watch it close, 5 minutes and turn it over so both sides are starting to brown or crisp up. Now you have Pork Carnitas. We like to add some of the braising liquid to the pork while crsiping and also to the leftover meat if it gets dry. It is to die for. We built our tostadas as such, Shell, then refired beans, lettuce, tomatos,chopped onions, sprinkled with Mex cojita cheese then topped with our favorite salsa. It takes a few beers to get these down

                      1. Elise on Simply Recipes has a great carnitas recipe on her site. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/...

                        Basically, you simmer the pork in beef broth and salsa for hours until it falls apart, then quickly crisp it up under the broiler. very easy, and has always gotten rave reviews from guests