Pork carnitas were one of the first things I taught myself how to make when I first started making meals for my family. They are easy and a crowd pleaser – perfect for taco nights or potlucks. I used to make it using my crockpot but now I do it exclusively the Diana Kennedy way – a time saver and it’s fool proof!
The old version required a 2 step process. First, I’d cook the pork low and slow in a crockpot and season with cumin, oregano, onion, garlic, orange juice, etc. When it was tender, I would shred and place it in a single layer on a cookie sheet and brown them under the broiler to make them crispy.
The way I’ve been making them for the last year requires only 1 skillet and 3 ingredients – pork, salt, and water. It’s a technique that Diana Kennedy has in her book, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. So easy – I love it. You simply cut up a pork shoulder into strips (leave the fat on!), sprinkle a little salt, and add barely enough water to cover all. I use my 15 inch iron cast skillet – thanks, mom! It holds 5 – 6 lbs of meat nicely.
Bring to a boil and simmer it for about 90 minutes for the water to evaporate and then continue to let it crisp up as the fat renders itself out.
And that’s it! No shredding, no broiler, no extra seasonings needed. I thought I would miss the flavors of additional seasonings, but I absolutely do not. I taste the crispy pork and whatever toppings I add to it – especially our creamy jalapeno cilantro lime sauce or our homemade salsa (taco topping recipe post…soon). I love it this way. Yum!
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- 5-6 lbs boneless pork shoulder (or boston butt)
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- lard (optional)
- Cut the pork into 2 inch by ¾ inch strips leaving all the fat on.
- In a large skillet, add just enough water to barely cover the pork and sprinkle on the salt.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to keep it at a medium simmer. Simmer until all of the water evaporates, about 90 minutes.
- Continue (while stirring every 5-10 minutes) another 30 minutes as the fat renders out and the pork becomes browned and crispy.
- Serve with your favorite taco toppings!
- Meat should not be falling apart when the water evaporates, but if it needs a little more time to become tender when the water evaporates, add a little more water.
- OPTIONAL: Per Diana Kennedy's recipe, add lard, if necessary, to brown properly.