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Carnitas toppings?

I'm making carnitas for an upcoming potluck----but I've never had them before what sort of toppings are most typically served. I'm leaning toward a fresh salsa, cabbage and avocado. I don't really want to go all out for this it's a work thing, just the basics. What do you normally get them topped with?

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  1. "Topped"? You mean like taco additions? If so... well then that's kinda my answer. What exactly do you mean by toppings?

    Salsa, avocado, things of that sort to add to them in kind of a quick taco, yes. Personally, I'd go with lettuce rather than cabbage on this route. You can serve corn or flour (or preferably a mix) of tortillas as well.

    Be aware that there are lots of carnitas recipes out there but the best and most authentic are the ones that are cooked in lard.

    2 Replies
    1. re: HaagenDazs

      Yes, by toppings I meant like for soft shell tacos--that seemed to be the most common option I came across for serving. It doesn't have to be totally authentic just totally good---I'm leaning toward a version that uses a slow cooker and then the oven. The last time I made pork shoulder in the crock pot there was a lot of fat melted in at the end so I'm assuming that will help in the crisping process in the oven----I just can't bring myself to go the lard route. Alternately I might try the bon appetite recipe for the stove top that seems to be a favorite on this site.

      1. re: Sally599

        OK cool - you've got the toppings in order then. Taco-style is the best way in my opinion, you're right.

        To be queasy of lard is kind of silly considering the amount of fat that is on a pork shoulder. Pork shoulder is inherently a fatty cut of meat. Cooking in lard certainly adds a few calories, but it's not like the meat is permeated and dripping with grease. I'd be willing to bet you're eating far more fat and oil on the outside of fried chicken. If you want to be grossed out, read up on margarine. Margarine is far more disgusting, even kind of dangerous to use. One thing I can stress (in the event you actually try it someday) is not to use the white and green boxed stuff at the regular grocery store - go to a Mexican market and buy yourself some quality lard. ;-) But I digress...

        Also, if I were you I would avoid the crock pot; you're just dirtying up a dish that you don't have to. Cook the whole thing in the oven. As long as you have an oven safe cooking vessel, (and it certainly sounds like you do) you can do it all in the oven. With a crock pot, you're basically braising anyway. Just my 2 cents though. I'd rather clean one porky dish, not 2.

    2. carnitas, pico de gallo(diced tomato, jalapeno, onion, and cilantro), and warm corn tortillas are all that are required. Put out the pico de gallo, carnitas, and tortillas separately do that guests can assemble their own.

      1. The Ecuadorian version of carnitas, fritada, can be served with
        "Serve the fritada with the sides including the yuca, hominy, plantains, curtido (marinated onion lime cilantro tomato salad), avocado slices and aji criollo (hot sauce)."
        according to Laylitta

        Soft tacos, as served by taco trucks and such, have few toppings, mainly a bit of chopped onion, cilantro, and limes. Red pickled onions go well with this.

        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj

          The onions are a good idea. One of my favorite things is to get some red onions and let them soak in fresh lime juice, salt, and a tiny bit of sugar for a day. You get a nice pink color too.

        2. Never serve cabbage with carnitas - or anything lese Mexican, for that matter. Use lettuce.

          4 Replies
          1. re: KiltedCook

            Not even on fish tacos? But that's two of you on the lettuce so I'll go with that option instead, easy enough.

            1. re: KiltedCook

              Why is that? Don't they grow and eat cabbage in Mexico?

              What's the most prefered choice of lettuce in Mexico? Romain, iceberg, or some fancy hothouse variety?

              Cabbage is a normal ingredient in fish tacos, though I don't know if that is typical of Baja use, or something changed in California.

              I've also have had a good cabbage based salsa at a Mexican-American restaurant.

              1. re: paulj

                repollo(cabbage)is most definitely a mexican ingredient, and not just for fish tacos.It's used in soups, rice dishes, shredded with fish tacos, and many other dishes.

              2. re: KiltedCook

                Lettuce would not be proper -- for carnitas soft tacos it would be cilantro and onion

              3. cabbage? avocado??

                onions/cilantro/salsa, maybe some lime and Tapatio. that's it.

                1. hey sally
                  last week i made carnitas. this being one of my favorite things to eat that i don't actually make, i went in search of a good carnitas recipe and man-o-man did i find it!
                  i did, however, make a few adjustments as i was cooking a 9 lb boston butt (i was the main course for a dinner party with 3 families of 5).
                  also on her site, i found this yummy green tomatillo/avocado sauce that i made that truly was a surprise hit. even the kids dug its yumminess!
                  although i had other accoutrements (sliced avocado, sliced onion, cilatro sprigs, creme fraiche, queso blanco, and pico) the carnitas were mostly eaten with just the meat and just the green sauce on small flour tortillas that had been warmed on a griddle. they were fabulous!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: raygunclan

                    This looks like something I can do without too much trouble, as far as the green salsa that one of the things I was worried about I've seen that with a few recipes but then the others have the pico de gallo and guacamole. I think I'm going to stick with the pico de gallo and avocado slices just due to availability, but I do like this recipe as it uses the meats own fat rather than adding more which is also an availability issue (quality Mexican lard vs the blocks).

                    1. re: Sally599

                      hey sally
                      let us know what you think of the recipe. i was super pleased as were all of the other noshers.
                      one of these times, i recommend trying the green sauce. it truly was delicious. even the kiddos ate it and enjoyed.
                      oh! one of the adjustments that i made that i thought you might be interested in... at the end of the cooking, i poured my meat into a colander, straining off all of the leftover fat and juice. i then evenly spread it onto a 1/2 sheet pan and baked for about 10 minutes at (i think) about 400. this just crisped up the meat, but it was still super juicy and delicious with the added texture.
                      good luck!

                      1. re: raygunclan

                        So I ended up going with the bon appetit recipe, it was pretty similar except that it also used orange zest and some whole garlic cloves. I think I screwed up by getting boneless country style ribs though, my original pan was a pork shoulder but they had the ribs which are the same meat on sale for less and hey they were already pre-cut. At the end there just wasn't a lot of rendered fat so I didn't end up with the texture that I thought I should get, the meat sort of dried out rather than crisping up. I did make the green salsa though which was excellent and different enough to merit comment. Everything still came out really tasty if not perfect but there was a clear difference in response from the people who tried it. The women all though it was good while the men absolutely loved it.