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Jun 19, 2006 05:07 PM

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. 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.



    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).


          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!


            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.


                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?