I've been a carnitas lover for years--nothing is more satisfying to me than biting in to these moist yet crispy and extraordinarily porky bites. And nothing is more disappointing than when I get a stewed meat or odd and/or burnt flavors. I've tried many taco trucks and many recipes over the years and only recently hit upon the key--it really is just about the pork. Though I usually favor the boldly seasoned, I finally realized that most seasonings were detracting from the porkiness, or burning, making the final frying portion a difficult balance.
I was lucky enough to pick up some tortillas made with "fancy corn" by La Palma Mexicitessan as part of the Rancho Gordo Xococ project which are also simple and flavorful.
Like any long time, low maintenance recipe I like to make it in large batches, but you can make as much or as little as you like. It freezes and reheats well. —prettyPeas
dried bay leaves
medium red onion
In This Recipe
Chop the pork shoulder into about 3/4 inch cubes. Don't even think of cutting off the fat or collagen, these are what make it great.
Salt the meat chunks and place in large, sturdy, flat bottomed pan with bay leaves. Add water to cover the top of the chunks and bring to a simmer.
Let simmer until water has completely evaporated, about and hour and a half. Test meat for tenderness with a knife and if not tender add additional water and simmer until tender.
Once water has evaporated and meat is tender, allow meat to fry in its own rendered fat until desired crispness, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to check for browning.
When carnitas start frying prepare the taco topping. Chop a medium red onion finely and place in a small serving bowl. Add the juice of 1 small lime, or 1/2 large lime and mix.
Chop cilantro finely and mix in to onions. Cut at least 1 lime wedge per taco for serving.
Toast tortillas individually in a skillet, or on a comal, and keep warm for serving in oven or tortilla warmer.
Drain fried meat on paper bag or towels and serve as tacos with onion/cilantro topping and possibly some hot sauce. You can add roasted tomatillo salsa or guacamole if you want, but I like to keep it pure and simple, like street tacos. With a cerveza, of course.
p.s. You can use the leftover bay and pork infused fat to make a version of the bay butter from Momofuku. Just strain and cool, then whip with an equal volume of butter and add salt if needed. Goes well on toasted bread or English muffins.