Friday, September 3, 2010

Pork Carnitas

Here is the third and final part of our perfect Pork Carnitas! It is super easy, low--maintenance, and has a great smoky (not sweet!) flavor.  I found the recipe on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen and my sister and I tweaked it just a bit to enhance the flavor.  Sadly, our tweaking resulted in a bit more work and one more dish to clean, but it definitely strengthens the flavor.  But even without our little addition, this is still a great pork for tacos, burritos, taco salad, and of course, my beloved carnitas.

Recipe Source: Tasty Kitchen
Serves: 6

3.5 lbs. Pork Shoulder Roast or Pork Butt
1 quart chicken stock
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
1 whole onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 Tbsp. Cumin
1 Tbsp. Oregano
1 Tbsp. Pepper
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chipotle chili powder

Additional taco garnishments:
shredded lettuce
shredded Monterey Jack cheese or crumbled Queso Fresco
small corn or flour tortillas
Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Corn Salsa

1. In a small bowl, combine the stock, tomato paste, garlic, onion, bay leaf, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and chipotle powder.  Stir everything to combine.

2.  Place your pork in a large pot or crockpot.  Pour your seasoned mixture over the pork.  If cooking on the stovetop, bring the pork to a boil, turn down to low and simmer, covered for 3-5 hours, or until the meat easily shreds.

3.  If cooking in a crockpot, simply cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until the meat easily shreds.

4.  Once the meat is tender and shreds easily, transfer to a cutting board and trim the fat.  Then shred or pull into small pieces.  Save the liquid. from your pot for later.

5.  Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Transfer the shredded meat to a large baking dish.

6.  In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. slightly cooled pork liquid.  Stir well, making sure there are no lumps.  Set aside.

7.  In a small saucepan, bring about 2 cups of reserved pork liquid to a boil.  Once it's boiling, stir in the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Boil for 1-2 minutes, or until thickened.

8.  Pour this slightly thickened mixture over your shredded pork and stir to combine.  Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes.  (I usually cover the pork for the first 15 minutes and then bake it uncovered for the remainder of the time to get it slightly crispy.)

As an alternative to the thickened mixture, you can just pour a couple cups of reserved pork liquid over the pork before you bake it.  I liked how the thicker mixture really coated the meat and I liked the texture and added flavor it gave the meat. However, you can save yourself some time and another dirty dish by just pouring the straight liquid over your meat.

9.  If serving in tacos, top the pork with the corn salsa, chipotle dressing, shredded Monterey Jack cheese or queso fresco, and shredded lettuce. 

These carnitas are probably in our top 3 favorite recipes of all time so we hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

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