Mexican food has always been a favorite with my family. Tacos made from crispy, tender pork filling in double soft corn tortillas topped with pico de gallo and sour cream are just heaven in my book. My Pork Carnitas are a succulent filling that also works in enchiladas and burritos.
The traditional way of braising pork in oil and/or lard isn’t the healthiest for those who are watching their weight. My version of pork carnitas, made with thick marbled boneless pork end pieces, fat free chicken broth/stock, orange juice, onions, and seasonings, is a bit healthier.
You can also use a whole boneless pork shoulder which will increase the cooking time, but will be just as tasty! Other pork cuts will work if they are well-marbled. The fat will break down and soften the pork while it cooks.
Start by seasoning your pork with salt and pepper. Sear the pork over medium heat in canola oil until browned on both sides.
Remove the browned pork from the pan. Slice some onion.
Add the sliced onion to the pan. Place the browned pork on top of the onions.
Let the onions and pork cook for about 5 minutes. Season the pork with some cumin and ancho chile powder.
Then add the chicken broth/stock and orange juice.
Let the pork simmer over low heat, covered, for 60 – 120 minutes or until the pork starts to fall apart.
The pork will begin to fall apart. Use a fork or tongs to shred the meat. Keep simmering until all of the liquid has evaporated.
Turn up the heat slightly and keep stirring to ensure the liquid is gone.
At this point, you can refrigerate the carnitas overnight. Store in the refrigerator in a non-metallic container with a tight-fitting lid.
If you are ready to serve the carnitas, spread the shredded pork into a shallow baking dish.
Bake the carnitas in a 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 5 – 10 minutes keeping watch so they don’t burn.
When the carnitas have browned on the edges and are crispy, remove them from the oven.
And get ready to serve! Offer with double corn tortillas for wrapping. Top with sauteed onions and bell peppers and pico de gallo.
Sour cream or Mexican crema add an additional richness to the tacos!
Or serve the carnitas on crispy tostadas with sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole!
For a more traditional carnitas taco, serve the pork carnitas on corn tortillas with chopped cilantro and onion and a squeeze of lime.
From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….
2 T canola oil
2 lbs pork end pieces or boneless pork shoulder, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 T powdered cumin
1 t ancho chile powder
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
4 c fat free chicken broth/stock
1/2 c orange juice
1. Warm the canola oil in a chef’s pan over medium heat.
2. Sear the pork on each side until browned but not cooked through.
3. Remove the pork and set aside.
4. Add the onions to the pan.
5. Put the pork back on top of the onions.
6. Season the pork with the cumin and ancho chile powder.
7. Let the onions sweat for 5 minutes with the pork pieces on top of them.
8. Add the chicken stock and orange juice.
9. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer the pork mixture for 60 – 120 minutes.
10. The pork will begin to fall apart into chunks. You may need to add additional liquid during the cooking process if the mixture becomes too dry.
11. When the liquid has evaporated, and the pork is very tender, pull it apart with some tongs or two forks. The onions may have disintegrated into the liquid which is just fine.
12. Remove the pork from the pan, and place in a glass pyrex baking dish.
13. Bake the pork for 5 – 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the meat starts to crisp and brown on the edges.
Makes about 2 cups of carnitas. Offer with corn tortillas, grilled onion and bell pepper strips, pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onion, and cilantro), and a touch of sour cream or Mexican crema. Guacamole, shredded lettuce, and shredded cheese are also tasty toppers. Traditionally, carnitas tacos are offered with chopped onion and lots of cilantro. Serve with whatever toppings you prefer. It’s your meal!
Variations: Substitute boneless chicken or turkey breasts for the pork. Omit the orange juice and add more chicken broth/stock. Use vegetable broth/stock instead of chicken. Add some tequila during the simmering phase for a different flavor.
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