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Pork Carnitas

carnitas

Pork carnitas is the recipe for this week. Easy to make at home and extremely versatile and tasty.

Pork carnitas, a Mexican dish, is a slow-cooked pork, usually pork butt. This meat is a shoulder piece, often called Boston butt, that has enough marbled fat running through it to make it juicy and delicious. One version of history reports, Campesinos (poor country farmers) prepared this delicacy in large copper pots, because of preparation time and the large quantity it made. It was often only made on special occasions, once or twice a year.

“Carnitas” literally means “little meats.” Prepared by slow cooking, this process breaks down the collagen and connective tissue in the meat and what’s left is extremely tender meat that falls apart into small pieces. Traditionally this meat was cooked in large amounts of lard, like being deep-fried. I’ve seen many recipes for carnitas with lots of steps, but this recipe I’m suggesting you try is easy and not a lot of work.

In my recipe, I don’t use any lard, as I certainly could use fewer calories. I don’t think it’s necessary as there’s no lack of flavor because of the lack of the lard. The natural marbled fat and juices from this piece of pork surely make it delicious.

 

I was educated by a friend about pork carnitas. It doesn’t need to be overly seasoned or spicy as it’s meant to be a base meat that you can add your own heat to with green or spicy chilies. Common toppings for carnitas are salsa, onions, beans, guacamole, tomatoes, and cheese, to name a few. Once finished, it’s great for many types of dinners. The traditional tacos, burritos, enchiladas, but try this also over white rice, toss with grilled vegetables, as wonton meat filling, or as an open-faced quesadilla with cheddar cheese melted on top. Any way you prepare it, it’s rich in flavor, easy to prepare, and oh so versatile.

DRY SEASONING RUB

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

2 tablespoons Kosher salt (I like the big flakes to help season it correctly)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS

Combine all dry seasonings and mix.

 

PORK CARNITAS

INGREDIENTS

4-5 pounds pork butt large chunk (I prefer boneless for ease)

2 cups salsa verde (I prefer the mild version of this ingredient, but you can use a spicier version if you can stand the heat)

1/4 cup water

DIRECTIONS

Using dry seasoning, rub the pork butt generously on all sides.

Place meat into a large crockpot, pouring salsa verde over the meat with 1/4 cup of water. Turn onto low and forget it for eight hours. (If crockpot lid isn’t really tight, increase water to 1/2 cup).

After eight hours, the meat has completely cooked and is ready to be forked apart (should be super tender). At this point, it’s ready to eat.

If you’re interested in getting authentic carnitas flavor after forking apart, turn the pork onto a sheet pan and place under broiler for five minutes or until crispy brown burnt crunchies appear and you’re ready to serve. Don’t forget: if you don’t want to do the work, it’s available at Butler’s all the time.

A simple recipe, and delicious. Hope you enjoy it.

Recipe by David Theiss Owner of Butler Gourmet Meats.