Swapping the traditional pork shoulder for pork belly makes carnitas one of the best versions you will ever try. Meltingly tender and flavorful on the inside, with delightfully crispy bits on the edges, this makes a fantastic taco filling. —meatified
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Meatified is a former vegetarian -- current paleo.
WHAT: The best damn pork we've ever eaten.
HOW: Marinate your pork in spices and apple juice; braise your meat with its marinade and stock; let the pork crisp and sizzle in its own rendered fat. Shred with two forks.
WHY WE LOVE IT: There is nothing NOT to love about this pork. It is tender and crispy and meaty and elegantly spiced, and you'll find yourself eating way more than you should. Pile it into tacos with a squeeze of lime, or just eat it, caveman-style, with your bare hands. Grunting is allowed. —The Editors
apple or pineapple juice
1 1/2 teaspoons
1 1/2 tablespoons
dried oregano leaves
2 1/2 pounds
pork belly, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
salt (reduce or omit if using stock with salt in it)
In a container or large freezer bag, combine the apple or pineapple juice, garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves, and oregano. Add the pork belly and refrigerate while it marinates for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
Remove the pork belly from the fridge an hour before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Tip the marinade into a large Dutch oven and spread the pork belly pieces in a single layer in the pan. Pour over your stock. Add salt if you're using unsalted stock. Cook for 2 hours with a lid on.
After 2 hours, remove the lid and cook the pork belly for another hour. This will cook off the remaining liquid and finish rendering the pork fat.
Remove the pork belly from the oven. Transfer the pork pieces to a large, flat-bottomed skillet. Spoon off as much of the fat as you can from the Dutch oven and add it to the skillet with the pork belly pieces. Avoid any solids from the bottom of the pan, as these will burn!
Over medium heat, continue to cook the pork belly in its own rendered fat. The pan should be bubbling but not spitting. Flip the pork belly pieces so that they brown evenly on all sides. This should take about 30 minutes.
When all sides are brown and a little crispy, remove the pork belly from the pan and drain on some paper towels. Shred the meat with two forks and enjoy!