Carnitas are Mexican street food at its best. Caramelized and delicious, every region has their way of making it. Using a nose to tail approach you can find ears, tail, shortribs, feet and anything in between cooked together in one HUGE barrel of pork fat, milk, orange juice and spices. The skin is sometimes also cooked in the carnitas mix to be fried and turned into chicharrones and served on top of tacos de carnitas. We have adapted a recipe to be simple enough to do at home and are thinking that a whole duck prepared in the same manner would be a great adaptation of this classic. Serve in tacos with fresh salsas and avocado.
For Pork cure:
3 lbs pork (mixed pieces are traditionally used, we chose spareribs and boneless, fatty stewing pork)
Juice of 2 limes
1 cup kosher salt
2 cups coarse sea salt
1 tbsp corriander seed
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Mix all ingredients together and cover whole pieces of pork with cure. Leave covered on a tray in fridge for 3-6 hours. Rinse and allow pork to dry uncovered in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.
4 tbsp fresh pork lard (substitute: duck fat or vegetable shortening)
3 lbs. cured pork meat cut into 3 inch cubes
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp dry oregano
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
250 ml milk
1 orange juiced, then cut into 8 pieces
10 crushed peppercorns
Sear cubes of pork in lard over medium-high heat until very well browned. About 15-20 minutes.
Remove pork from pan, lower heat and add onion. Sweat onion until translucent and browned, but not too dark. Add orange juice and scrape brown bits from bottom of pan.
Add pork back into pan with orange pieces then add milk and aromatics.
Bring to a low boil and cover and allow to simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Pieces should be tender, well cooked but still firm and holding their shape.
Remove lid and turn up heat to medium-high to reduce the liquids. Turn pieces frequently to caramelize evenly and to avoid over browning. Cook until all liquids have caramelized and only meat and fat is left in pan.
Drain off excess fat and serve pieces whole on a platter with tortillas, fresh salsas, avocado, coriander and finely diced white onion.