Caution: THIS RECIPE IS A PAIN-IN-THE-ASS. If you don’t actually enjoy cooking and spending time in the kitchen, you will hate this unless you can get someone else to make it for you.
We became addicted to carnitas in Mexico, and waiting for a year between eating it is not an option. Hell… we barely make it a week before we make it again. It’s even whole30 friendly only by using riced n’ spiced cauliflower instead of my usual rice bowl. Or a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla.
It HAS to be a butt or a shoulder. Trust me. Sale prices have encouraged us to try every cut out there. Butt is my favorite. I like big butts and I can not lie.
Cut your butt into 2″ish chunks. Season with salt and pepper and brown em up REAL good. BROWN them up. not GREY them up.
If you are totes adorbs like Lonnie and I and are cooking as a couple, while one of you browns the meat, the other can make the sauce.
Into the blender goes:
Juice of 4 limes, 2 oranges, 1 lemon
2T chili powder
1T Mexican oregano
1t (or more if you like it super spicy) cayenne
Note: Sometimes we use 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead of the cayenne, or we use rehydrated guajeo peppers, but we live in Maine and finding the dried peppers called for in so many recipes we want to cook has been next to impossible (Yes. I know we could just order some.)
Spread your browned meat into a 9×13 or roasting pan. Pour the sauce all over it and squish it all around. Cover and bake low n’ slow, about 3 hours at 250.
At this point, you have 2 options. 1. Uncover, turn the heat up a bit and cook it more to reduce the liquid or 2. (Which is what Lonnie always does) Transfer it into a REALLY BIG frying pan to cook down the liquid. Your goal here is to cook down the liquid enough to then brown/caramelize the meat so it gets some DELICIOUS CRISPY BITS! It’s nearly impossible to do this with all the meat at once –in our kitchen anyway, so we usually cook down the liquid all in one giant pan, and then as we serve, we crisp the meat up in a separate pan.
THE WORST PART IS OVER!!! You now have several days worth of AMAZING carnitas to use in rice bowls, tortillas, with your eggs for breakfast… whatever your is your jam. You do you, man!
Lonnie’s jam: Corn tortillas, and garnished with red onions pickled in red wine vinegar, pineapple, radish, and cilantro (This is usually how carnitas are served in Mexico. He’s a purist)
My jam: Rice bowl (or currently– a riced, seasoned (onion powder, salt, cayenne, cumin, chili powder) cauliflower bowl), topped with guacamole, radish, maybe some scallions. Sometimes (when I’m not whole30ing), I go with the typical, shredded cheese/sour cream/guac business/black beans and corn business that Chipotle has taught us to love.