day twenty-two: pork carnitas

Carnitas. Little meats. Delicious little caramelized meats that go perfectly with taco accoutrements - guacamole, salsa, cilantro, mango salad. Yes yes yes yes! Carnitas are a labour of love, they are not difficult but take time and patience. I have used two different methods for preparing carnitas, the smitten kitchen way and the david lebovitz way. Both produce great results, so its really up to you.


pork carnitas
mishmashed from david lebovitz & smitten kitchen

3 lbs boneless pork butt/shoulder, cut into 2-3 inch cubes
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp chili powder (I used pasilla, but a regular old chili powder is fine)
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp cumin
3 garlic cloves, smushed
3 oranges, juiced, about 3/4 cup
3 limes, juiced, about 1/4 cup

Preheat a large cast iron dutch-oven on stovetop at medium-high heat. Once dutch oven is hot, add coconut oil and melt. Season pork with kosher salt and sear each side of pork until crispy golden. If your cast iron isn't large enough, do this in batches.

Once seared, add cinnamon, chili powder, ancho, cumin, and garlic - let cook for 2 minutes, coating the meat in the spices. Pour in orange and lime juice and deglaze pan, use a wooden spoon to scrape all the crusty bits off the bottom. Fill the pan with water so that the pork is almost submerged. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to barely a simmer.

At this point, you have two choices. Stovetop or oven - I have used both and have found very little difference, although I tend to get distracted and forget about the carnitas in the oven, so stovetop is a bit easier on that front.

Stovetop method: Let pork cook on stovetop uncovered and untouched, at barely a simmer for two hours. Turn heat up to medium-high and let liquid evaporate while turning the pork every so often - allow liquid to evaporate and pork to brown and crisp.

Oven method:  Preheat oven to 350F. Put pork, uncovered into oven for 2 - 2.5 hours until most of the liquid has evaporated and pork is crispy and tender. Turn pork pieces every 3o minutes or so.

Remove pork from cast iron and shred for tacos. I have used corn tortillas in the past, but for paleo/whole30 I use iceberg lettuce for its satisfying crunch.

dinner: pork carnitas, mango salad, iceberg lettuce