Gavin from Authentic Human is back this week with another cooking from scratch video to show us how to make a Mexican favorite pork dish – Carnitas.

This week’s post is a little more fun than strictly functional. When you think Carnitas you probably think Mexican or Chipotle and you’d be right. Carnitas is pork that is characterized by a crispy exterior and moist, succulent meat. Carnitas translated from Spanish means ‘little’ or ‘small’ meats. This is because Carnitas is slow cooked until it is so tender it can be pulled apart into small pieces which are then roasted at a high heat to produce the crispy exterior.

Cooking Carnitas is really more of a technique than a particular recipe because there are so many variations and each is delicious. When it comes to pork the wisdom of  traditional methods of preparation are key to ensuring a healthy meal!  Every Mexican family will have their own ‘secret sauce’ or spice mix some use orange juice, some use milk – so what we’re going to show you is the basic technique and our favorite recipe but when you try it on your own don’t be afraid to add a bit of your own ‘flava’ to your Carnitas – yeah booyy!

The Basic Technique

The cut of meat: A well-marbled 3-10 lb pork shoulder also known as a Boston Butt ( … we like big Boston Butts and we cannot lie – you other brothers can deny … ;o)   Don’t trim the fat – this helps keep the meat moist and makes it delicioso!

Prepare the meat: Typically marinate in water with an acid medium (lime, lemon, vinegar), salt & spices, how long will depend on the size of your meat and whether you left it whole or cut it into strips. The longer the better – overnight is best.

Dry rub the meat: Generously cover the meat in your favorite blend of spices. We used cumin, coriander, paprika, chipotle and salt.

Sear the meat: Heat some olive oil in your Dutch oven and get a nice brown crust on each side of your shoulder. Add the onions and bay leaves around the sides and layer green chilis on top.

Braising liquid: Add enough liquid to almost cover the pork – more if you plan to cook it for longer – enough so it won’t try out before the fat renders and it starts cooking in fat instead of water. We used homemade chicken stock and added water. Beef or vegetable stock would work too.

Oven ready: Transfer to a preheated oven and cook for as long as you can. 4-6 hours at 250 to 275 degrees F or lower temperature for longer.

Pull the pork: Transfer the pork from the Dutch oven to a roasting pan and roughly pull the meat apart with two forks – 3-4 inch pieces are good. Don’t remove the fat – it is key to help crisp and caramelize the meat. Add some more salt and seasonings – we use Everyday Seasoning.

Grill briefly: Place under the grill in the oven at 450 degrees F for 10-15 until the outside of the meat is golden and crispy. When you take it out you can remove any large pieces of fat before your serve it up.

Serve it up: For the Paleo people and those who avoid grains like we do flour tortillas are out so we serve ours on Napa Cabbage leaves. You can also use corn tortillas or tacos. We usually serve our Carnitas with guacamole and chipotle mayo – but here again you can go with your own favorites like some lime and cilantro, chopped onion, green salsa, tomato salsa, refried beans and radishes.   Cailin, the littlest human at Authentic Human wanted hers on a gluten/wheat-free English muffin with some pan sauce drizzled over.

Try making some Carnitas this weekend – it really is very easy and so delicious. The deliciousness factor definitely exceeds the effort involved. Anyone you invite over will be very impressed with your culinary skills!