I had a whole cute story to go up here about how I grew up in South Texas eating Tex-Mex food, and that because of that I’m a Mexican food snob. How pork carnitas are a great break from heavy winter foods because their citrus-y notes are surprisingly refreshing on a cold day. I was going to regale you with how the Instant Pot has revolutionized cooking for me, and made getting food on the table so much simpler.
But then I thought about how much I hate having to wade through tomes on other people’s blogs in order to get the recipe I’m looking for, so I’m keeping this simple. Carnitas are yummy. Here’s how to make them:
Instant Pot Carnitas (or slow cooker if that’s more your jam, it just takes longer)
- 4-5 lb pork butt or shoulder roast (it’s not actually the pig’s butt, in case you were wondering)
- 4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp dried oregano (Mexican oregano is best, but use what you have)
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2-3 bay leaves (I use two unless they’re small, then I need three)
- 6-8 cloves garlic (I always use 8, but we really like garlic)
- 1 cup orange juice (I use the pulp free kind my kids drink, but you can fresh squeeze it if you want to)
- juice from 3 med or 2 large limes
- 3/4 cup of Coke (yes, you can use Dr Pepper instead)
- 1 large onion cut into chunks
- 1 4.5 oz can of diced green chilis (I use the mild because some of my kids are wimps)
Dump it all into your Instant Pot (or slow cooker.) There’s no reason to try to be pretty about this since you’re just going to cook the heck out of it and no one else is going to see it. Dump it all in.
Put the lid on and cook on Manual for 2 hours (8-10 on low or 5-6 on high for you slow cooker peeps.) Slow pressure release, and then shred the whole thing.
*My pork roast is usually frozen when I put it into the IP because I never think ahead enough to thaw it first.
Making them crispy
You can go ahead and make tacos out of the carnitas right now, but they’re so much better when they’re crispy.
I use 2 methods depending on how many people I’m feeding at any given meal.
- Crisp them up in a pan – Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan on medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add enough of the shredded pork to cover the surface pan (or as much as y’all are going to eat.) You don’t want a thick layer here, you want it to sear and get crispy on the edges. Ladle the liquid (broth) over it while it’s cooking to make it extra flavorful.
- Crisp them in the oven – This is what I usually do because there are a lot of us. You’re going to need a cookie sheet with a rim on it, or other suitable pan. Spray your cookie sheet with nonstick spray or line it with foil. Put a thin layer of pork on the sheet. It can be touching, you can crowd it a bit. Pour a cup or so of the broth over the pork and then broil it 5-10 minutes until the ends are deliciously crispy and browned.
Serve the crispy shredded pork on a warm tortilla (corn is traditional, but my kids won’t eat them) with chopped onion, cilantro if you like it, and a touch of salsa. It’s also great on a salad, on nachos, stirred up with so guac and dipped on chips, or eaten straight from the pan before you tell anyone else they’re ready.
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