Carnitas de Puerco

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Meats | Carnitas de Puerco Tacos

(Mexican crispy tender shredded pork)

Slow-simmered pork, with a step at the end to add crispiness, carnitas are an amazing option for stuffing tacos, burritos and tamales. Carnitas are easy to make, but it does take some time. Traditional carnitas are always simmered in lard; it adds flavor and tenderness. See the variations for healthier options if all that fat scares you away.

Image Creative Commons by mccun934

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Lard -- 1 cup
  • Pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes -- 2 1/2 pounds
  • Orange, sliced -- 1
  • Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
  • Oregano -- 1 tablespoon
  • Bay leaf -- 1
  • Salt and pepper -- to season

Method

  1. Melt the lard in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium flame. Stir in the pork and remaining ingredients and heat until the pork is simmering. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly, and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove cover and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork browns and becomes crispy on the outside, another 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Drain of any excess fat and remove the orange slices. When the pork is cool enough, shred it by hand or with a fork.
  4. Adjust seasoning and serve as an entree or as a filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas or tamales. Carnitas go well with salsa verde.

Variations

  • Other Flavorings: Add some chopped onion and chopped garlic to the simmering pork for added flavor. For some heat, add a couple chopped jalapeño or chipotle peppers. Other seasonings often used include marjoram, thyme and cumin.
  • Lower-Cholesterol Version: If you're watching your cholesterol, substitute olive oil for the lard.
  • Lower-Fat Version: If you're watching calories, substitute 2 cups of chicken stock or water for the lard. You won't be able to get the browned crispiness of true carnitas this way though.
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