Carnitas (or “little meats”) are a traditional Mexican dish of cubed pork shoulder braised with spices and citrus until tender. Fresh orange, crushed garlic, earthy oregano and aromatic cinnamon and bay leaf create a rich and fragrant braising liquid that imparts its savory flavors into the pork as it cooks. There’s very little hands-on work involved, and the carnitas can be made a day ahead. Store the pork in the liquid overnight, then gently reheat before serving. A final finish under the broiler creates a golden, crispy exterior on the meat.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 3pounds pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1tablespoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), plus more for seasoning
- 1teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1 ½teaspoons dried oregano
- 1navel orange, quartered
- 1white onion, quartered
- 7garlic cloves, crushed
- 1cinnamon stick, broken into 2 pieces
- 1bay leaf (dried or fresh)
- ¼cup neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
- Warmed tortillas, chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado and lime wedges, for serving
Step 1Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large Dutch oven, combine pork, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the oregano, and toss to evenly coat the meat in the spices. Squeeze orange juice all over the pork and add the juiced orange quarters to the pot. Add onion, garlic, cinnamon stick and bay leaf, and toss until well incorporated, nestling everything in an even layer. Drizzle oil evenly over the meat. Cover and braise in oven until pork is tender, about 2 1/2 hours, stirring once halfway through the cooking.
Step 2Heat broiler to high, setting a rack 6 inches from the heat source. Transfer pork to a rimmed baking sheet and shred the meat. Strain juices from the pot through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing on the solids; discard solids. Skim fat from top and reserve the juices.
Step 3Broil pork until golden and crisp in spots, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer carnitas to serving plates and drizzle with some of the reserved juices. Serve warm with tortillas and toppings of choice.