When it comes to versatile, you can’t beat Slow-Cooked Mexican Pork Carnitas! Cook up a big pot and use it in tacos, taquitos, flautas, sandwiches or even on top of pizza!
With Super Bowl this weekend, I thought I’d do something a little different. One of my favourite things to order when I’m eating out Mexican is Carnitas, whether it’s in a taco, taquitos or bowl. There is nothing like the flavour of this delicious slow-cooked, pork. Cooked until tender, then shredded, Carnitas can be enjoyed in dishes “as is”, or quickly fry it up in a frying pan to make it crispy.
So today I’m sharing the basic Carnitas recipe. It’s perfect for making up ahead and refrigerating or freezing. Then on the big day, just thaw and enjoy in your favourite dishes. And speaking of favourite dishes, I’ll be showing you 4 different ways to use your Carnitas. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing two easy and delicious recipes for Carnitas Tacos and Carnitas Flautas. They share the same ingredients, they are just put together a little differently. Then on Friday, watch for a delicious Carnitas Pizza recipe. They are all pictured in the header photo, so you can see how delicious they all look!
The great thing about all these dishes is that they all use basically the same ingredients, but they each have distinctive flavours and textures, so it’s easy to create a bunch of different dishes easily. Perfect for Super Bowl Sunday! If you are planning your shopping list, you’ll need red onion, jalapeno peppers, Mexican cotija (or feta) cheese, fresh cilantro (or flat-leafed parsley), sour cream and a tiny bit of heavy cream for all of the recipes. On top of that, the tacos need flour or corn tortillas and the flautas need flour tortillas. You’ll need crusty rolls and enchilada sauce for the sandwiches and store-bought pizza dough and enchilada sauce for the pizza.
Cook’s Notes for Slow-Cooked Mexican Carnitas
As mentioned above, Carnitas freezes beautifully, so it’s great for making ahead. Simply remove from the freezer and pop in to the fridge the night before you will be using it. It will be ready to go the next morning.
To make your Carnitas “crispy”, simply heat a little cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add your Carnitas and allow to cook until browned. (Pressing down with a spatula works well here). Remove and use in tacos or sandwiches.
Slow Cooked Mexican Carnitas
- 3 pounds pork shoulder
- 7 strips strips orange peel
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 leaves bay
- Pinch ground cloves
- 1 tsp dried oregano leaves (less if ground oregano)
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt or more, to taste (less if using fine salt)
- Cut pork should in to chunks (about 1-2 inches), cutting off and discarding any chunks of fat along the way. It's fine to leave a bit of fat on the cubes, just remove the areas of pure fat.
- Place pork in a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove-top. Add enough water to cover the meat by about 2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until water boils. Allow to boil a minute or so, then turn off the heat. Carefully skim off the fat from the top of the liquid and discard.
- Add to the pot the orange zest strips, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, bay leaves, oregano, salt and cloves. Stir to combine. Re-heat liquid to boiling, then reduce heat to medium low to a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, checking a few times near the end of cooking to make sure there is still liquid in the pot (if not, add a bit).
- After 1 1/2 hours, REMOVE AND DISCARD BAY LEAVES, then use a fork or potato masher to break apart/shred the chunks of pork. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for an additional 30 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
- Use immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for later use.
- You can use the Carnitas "as is", or crisp it up in a skillet with a little oil over medium-high heat before using.