These carnitas are amazing. This is the second time I’ve made them – the first time was for the Super Bowl. They have so much flavor! They’re sweet and spicy all at once, the crispy, caramelized edges are melt in your mouth delicious, and the smell of them braising in the oven is divine. I had to stop myself from eating the entire pan, standing by the stove and burning my fingers. The recipe is basically David Lebovitz’s, with a few edits.
I served these on toasted flour tortillas (I prefer corn tortillas with this, but we were out) with shredded red cabbage fresh from our community garden, cotija cheese and a mayonnaise cilantro spice sauce. Next time I’d use plain yogurt or sour cream as the base for the sauce – the recipe is below. These would also be just a delicious with nothing but the meat and fresh squeezed lime over the top wrapped in tortillas.
adapted from David Lebovitz
4 – 5 lb pork shoulder, trimmed
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (I used ½ tsp cinnamon)
2 tsp chili powder
2 dried red chiles
¼ tsp cumin
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
Water or chicken broth
- Cut pork shoulder into 5” chunks. Rub salt all over, then let them rest in the fridge, covered for up to 3 days, or just proceed to the next step.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan.
- Sear chunks of pork well on each side until deep golden brown. Remove to plate or paper towels.
- Deglaze the pan with water or chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the tasty brown bits.
- Add the spices and garlic to the pan, stir. Put the pork back in the pan, pour water or broth in the pan until the pork is covered 2/3 of the way up. Turn the pieces to coat.
- Roast uncovered in the oven 3 ½ hours, turning every 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the pan seems to be running dry before the pork starts falling apart, add more water or broth to the pan. When you go to turn the meat and it falls apart, it’s done.
- Remove the pork to a plate and let cool. When you can handle it, shred it in to chunks, then add it back to the roasting pan and toss it in the leftover juices.
- Add the pan back to the oven and allow the extra juice to evaporate out, so the chunks get a crunchy crisp to them. Be careful not to over-crisp, but if you do over-crisp a bit of broth or water mixed through will rehydrate.
Cilantro Spice Sauce
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 bunch (about 3 – 5 tbsp chopped) cilantro, chopped finely
2 tbsp lime juice, or enough to thin out the sauce
Chile sauce – I used Sriracha
- Mix all ingredients, using lime juice to thin out to the desired consistency and Sriracha until desired spice level is reached.