I said probably, since these things can be debated forever, and who has that kind of time when there are carnitas to make? This is a very simple recipe to adapt to the home kitchen, and as long as you cook the pork until it’s fork tender before crisping, you’re almost guaranteed a gorgeous pile of memorable meat.
I show how to do a whole pan at once under the broiler, but you can just as easily crisp up small batches in a frying pan set on medium-high heat. Just spoon in some reserved fat, and cook until crisp. Either way, this is a very important step, and not to be skipped.
There are hundreds of different spice combinations you can use here, and I often switch things up. I always include the salt, pepper, orange, garlic, and cinnamon, but then see where my mood takes me. Having said that, this is a pretty typical ingredient list, except for maybe the Chinese 5-Spice.
Mine contained cinnamon, fennel seed, clove, ginger, and star anise; so if you can’t find any, just add a pinch of each of those things instead. It seemed to add a little extra sweetness to the meat, and I may even use more next time. Besides that, oregano and/or thyme are nice additions, as are various chili powders.
If you’ve never tried to make carnitas at home, I really hope this inspires you to try. If you’ve never had carnitas at all, I need you to call in sick tomorrow, and make this recipe immediately. It’s that good. And don’t forget the fire-roasted salsa. Enjoy!
Ingredients for 6 servings Carnitas:
3 pounds boneless pork butt (shoulder), rind removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tbsp kosher salt (this needs to be salted generously!)
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
1 orange, peel and juice
8 cloves peeled whole garlic
2 bay leaves, torn in half
1/4 cup olive oil
- Roast at 275 F. for about 3 1/2 hours or until fork tender