The other night, I was stumped for what to make for dinner, so I went to my list of tried-and-trues, and chose tacos. Tacos are always good, and always a favorite, but man, if ground beef tacos didn’t sound just BLAH… I didn’t know what to do. Michael suggested we try a different meat, like fajita beef or chicken or something else. I agreed, but what? Then a light bulb went off over his head, and bam, he had the best idea ever: Pork Carnitas.
What are carnitas? “Carnitas, literally meaning ‘little meats’, is a dish of Mexican cuisine originating from the state of Michoacán. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender.” Thanks Wikipedia. I think of it more like Mexican pulled pork. But hey.
Back in TX, I feel like we were pretty spoiled when it came to Mexican food and the sheer variety of tacos. But when it came down to it, the simple always seemed the most delicious, and carnitas tacos have always lived high on my list of favorite foods. So, clearly, I’d have to make them.
What I learned is pork carnitas isn’t a terribly difficult dish to make, and happens to now be one of my favorite things in the world to have on hand. I am so thankful to have this “set it and forget it” recipe in my back pocket, because my goodness, is it amazing.
All you need is a pork butt/shoulder, a handful of seasonings, onions and peppers and fresh orange. Seriously, it requires very little, but MAN does it pack a HUGE punch! Like a MONSTER punch.
I found the recipe on another blog, Recipe Tin Eats, and I’m glad I did. Why’d I choose this recipe above others I found? Well, her photography is drool-worthy and I loved that there was that extra step of crisping up the meat in a cast-iron. It really took this meat next level. But it was her 5 points that appealed to me most of all:
- Easy (of course, goes without saying);
- Has enough flavour such that it can be eaten plain;
- Subtle enough flavour so it can be used in any Mexican dish (over salting and over spicing is a common problem with many recipes);
- Has perfect caramelized brown bits while retaining the incredible juiciness from slow cooking; and
- Is still super juicy even after freezing and defrosting.
The only things I did different were add more garlic, threw in some smoked paprika, and threw in a second jalapeño. That’s it. Otherwise, I followed her directions to a T, and it was absolute perfection.
The result was being able to feed my family some of the best tacos we’d ever had, and have some outrageous meals using the pork as leftovers. I used the pork in sandwiches, on nachos, in breakfast tacos, in quesadillas, on a salad, and just all by itself. It’s just that good. I hope you check this recipe out and add it to YOUR easy weekday recipe arsenal.