Ah, pork. Be it crispy golden tonkatsu, softly simmered chile verde, or even a perfectly pan-fried chop, I can't get enough of the other white meat. At the forefront of my porcine passion: carnitas: that tender, flavorful pork crisped at the edges by a hot bath in its own fat. Surprisingly, recipes are bountiful for such a simple dish. I've seen preparations involving braising, roasting, and deep-frying in a backyard turkey fryer, and an exponential number of seasonings, from a healthy dash of salt to a myriad of unconventional ingredients. In the end, it depends on personal preference, and I like my carnitas about as simple as can be with a little Mexican oregano and orange notes to highlight the sweetness of the meat. As for condiments, the more the merrier, but I tend to enjoy pork the most with "green" flavors (tomatillo salsa verde and guacamole), pickled red onions, and salty cotija cheese with homemade corn tortillas, fresh radishes, black beans, and rice on the side.
Read ahead for her carnitas recipe.
- 2.5-3 lbs. pork butt/shoulder
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp. Mexican oregano
- 1/2 orange
- 1/3 c. water
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Cut the pork butt into 2"-wide slices, and lay in a baking dish just large enough to hold the meat. Sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt, squeeze orange juice and sprinkle oregano over the top, and wedge the orange rind in between the pieces of meat. Pour water around the meat, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and place in the oven for one hour.
- Uncover the meat and raise the oven temperature to 450ºF. Allow the liquid to boil off, about 15 minutes. When just rendered fat remains, turn meat every 5 minutes or so until the outside is nicely browned, about 20 more minutes.
- Remove from oven and rest meat until cool enough to touch, then remove excess fat and shred the meat. Discard the orange rind. Serve with warm tortillas and your favorite fixings.