Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crispy, Juicy Carnitas

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican independence day. Sept 16th is! So in honor of it, I'm posting this today. Happy Mexican Independence Day!

I had no idea carnitas were so easy to make. I'm definitely making this a lot more in the future, especially since it was so yummy!

Having a pressure cooker really makes life a lot easier too. Pressure cookers are really amazing. Instead of braising for hours on end...I popped the meat in for half an hour and *poof* it's done! It's like magic!
On top of being so delicious and easy to make, they're healthy too. I always thought that carnitas were deep fried to get their crispy goodness, but they don't have to be. All they need a bit of time in the oven for nice crispy edges and a juicy interior.

Put it on a tortilla with some chopped onions, cilantro and hot sauce and you've got yourself a great meal!

I'm also submitting this for Joelen's TGIF Happy Hour that is featuring margaritas and other Mexican goodies.

- 4 pounds of pork butt (shoulder)
- 1.5 tbs of salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 tsp cumin (plus more to taste)
- 1 tsp chili powder (plus more to taste)
- 5 grinds of ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 onion
- 1 jalapeno
- 3 cloves of garlic

Cut the pork into ~2x2 inch cubes. I think this is a good size because it cooks quicker than not cutting it into chunks but still keeps it really juicy.

Sprinkle the seasonings on the meat and put it into a pressure cooker or large pot if you don't have a pressure cooker. Rough chop the onion and jalapeno and toss them in. Crush the garlic and throw that in the pot too. Next add water until the meat is barely submerged if using a pressure cooker, or until fully submerged if you're using a pot.

If you're using a pressure cooker, heat until fully pressurized and keep it there for 30 minutes or until tender. If you're using a regular pot, put a lid on it and put it into a 300 degree oven, or simmer on the stove top for a few hours until tender. A slow cooker would work too.

When the meat is cooked and falls apart easily, remove the onions, garlic, bay leaf and jalapeno if you can find them. Drain all but 1/2 an inch of the liquid.

Lightly smash each cube of pork so that it falls apart just a little bit, but not totally shredded. The reason I do this is to maximize the surface area that will get extra seasoning and will get crispy in the oven, but not so much so that it dries out and is no longer juicy.

Sprinkle on additional amounts (to taste) of the same seasonings you used before. Don't be scared to be generous with the seasonings.

Pop it into a 350 degree oven for about 10-20 minutes or until the tops and edges are dry and crispy and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Shred the meat with a fork or your fingers. Serve it in a tortilla with some chopped onions, cilantro, hot sauce and any other toppings of your choice.


Cate said...

I always order carnitas but never thought about making it myself. Thanks for this!

dp said...

HA! I just bought a pressure cooker for the sole purpose of braising pork, beef and lamb! I've only used it once to make pork and everything turned out great. And no freak explosions! What a time saver for busy folks.

That Girl said...

I knew Cinqo de Mayo wasn't Mexican Independence Day, but I didn't know today was!

Anonymous said...

The meat looks tender and it's nicely shredded ... It looks delicious~ :) Thanks for visiting me :)

Anonymous said...

My husband LOVES this stuff! we'll have to try this recipe to make it ourselves! yum!

Lil'Ho said...

This looks amazingly tender and delicious!

Maggie said...

Yum! The pressure cooker is looking more tempting!

Julia said...

I tried this last night and it was fantastic!. The cumin was a little overpowering. But the pork came out SO juicy and delicious. Why did I waste so much time without a pressure cooker?

gaga said...

Julia, I'm so glad you liked it (and sorry it was too much cumin). Aren't pressure cookers wonderful?!?! I'm in love with mine!

Unknown said...

I just got a pressure cooker for Mother's day and love it. I am a meal planner but I also season the meat and put in Ziploc bags on a Sunday to be able to just throw in the PC during the week. This has been marinating in my fridge for three days now. Gonna have it for supper tonight !