This carnitas or "little meats" recipe is the best tortilla-wrapped food I have ever eaten. Slowly simmered pork is left to sizzle in its own drippings and then combined with a tart acidic green salsa. It's like the shredded pork cousin of churrasco with chimichurri. The tart salsa cuts the fatty flavor of the pork beautifully. The only thing I didn't like about this recipe is the state it left my stock pot in – an overnight soaking was required. It's definitely worth the trouble, but next time I'm going to try a two-part process, starting in a crockpot and then transferring to a cast iron skillet for the final crisping phase. I'll report back once I've tried the new cooking method, but I see no reason to deny you this deliciousness in the meantime.
First you're going to need a pork shoulder roast. Because this is a fattier roast and a lot of the fat renders out, I'm going to advise you to get about 12 ounces of uncooked meat per person. This will give you enough meat for two large tacos per person. This recipe uses a three-pound roast so just scale the recipe up proportionally for whatever roast size your cooking. You chop the roast into two-inch cubes and put it in a large pot with garlic, orange juice, lime juice, salt, and a little cumin.
Now while the meat is going on that two-hour simmer, you shouldn't twiddle your thumbs. Take 25 minutes and make green salsa. First toss the tomatillos, onion, and three cloves of garlic in the oven to roast for about 15 minutes.
Adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook via Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4 generously
Cooking Time: 2 hours 45 min. (maybe 30 min. active)
3 pounds pork shoulder roast
1/2 cup orange juice (I used tangelo juice because it's what I had around.)
1/4 cup lime juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1. Cut the pork roast into 2-inch chunks and put in a large pot. Add all the other ingredients.
2. Add water to the pot until the meat is just covered.
3. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer uncovered for 2 hours.
4. After the 2 hours are up turn the heat up to medium-high and cook off the remaining water/juice. At this stage, check the meat every few minutes. It could take anywhere from 10-40 minutes for the rest of the liquid to evaporate.
5. When there is just liquid fat in the bottom of the pot start turning the meat to brown it on all sides.
6. Remove meat from pot and shred with two forks. Serve in tortillas with the salsa below.
Adapted from Food in Jars (although the idea to pair it with carnitas was also inspired by The Homesick Texan Cookbook)
Makes a lot (4 cups maybe? Probably enough for two batches of carnitas.)
Cooking time: 25 min. (10 active)
1 pound tomatillos
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped (I used 2, but mine weren't very spicy.)
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 medium onion
1/ 4 cup packed cilantro (Didn't actually measure. This is a guesstimate.)
salt to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
2. Husk, wash, and slice the tomatillos in half. Cut the onion into large chunks.
3. Roast the tomatillos, onion chunks, and 3 cloves of garlic for 15 minutes.
4. Scrape into a bowl and add the other ingredients. Puree with an immersion blender.
5. Salt to taste and serve with the carnitas. The salsa will get better as its sits and the flavors meld so feel free to make it ahead of time.