Simple Carnitas

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This is an old recipe of mine that’s been pretty popular on the last few years and I decided it was time to share it here.  It’s the easiest method I know for tasty carnitas and by cooking it in water rather than lard, the fat is knocked down to just 10 grams per serving.  Salt is the main seasoning and this recipe also has a subtle orange flavor in the background and because the meat is mild, it makes wonderful barbecue pulled pork sandwiches as well.  While you might be inclined to omit the orange, I assure you it’s very mild and adds a wonderful flavor to the dish.  This recipe is easily adapted to a slow cooker but keep in mind that if you’re using less than 8 or 9 cups water you’ll need to cut back on the salt and the added cooking time with that method will also allow the meat to absorb more salt; so adjust accordingly.  Enjoy!

I started by cutting 3 1/2 pounds of boneless pork butt (shoulder) into several large chunks.

I quartered 2 oranges and 1 onion then peeled and smashed 6 cloves of garlic.

I opened a bottle of beer and drank it while the meat was cooking.  This is an essential step and my secret for perfect carnitas.

I measured out 1/4 cup of kosher salt.  Don’t use table salt- it’s different.

In a large pot I combined the pork, oranges, onion, garlic and salt and added 1 tablespoon black peppercorns and 2 bay leaves.  I covered this with about 9 cups of water then set it over high heat to bring to a boil.

Once the water came to a boil, I reduced the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, I spooned off most of the foam that rose to the top, then added 1 tablespoon of ground cumin.  I loosely covered the pot leaving the lid askew to vent and simmered it for 1 1/2 hours.  Your house will smell amazing!

After 1 1/2 hours, I removed the pot from the heat and let the meat cool in the broth with the lid off for 1 hour before removing it and shredding it.  At this point you can either use it as is or crisp it up on a sheet pan under the broiler.  Or better yet, fry it up in a little oil.  Yeah, I know-I’m adding the fat back in.

This stuff was so good it deserved two pictures.  Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Carnitas
Prep time
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This is the easiest way to get tasty carnitas without all the fat. The orange as a wonderful subtle flavor to the recipe but is mild enough that the meat can be used in a variety of ways.
Recipe type: Entree, Main
Serves: 10
  • 3½ pounds boneless pork butt cut into several large chunks
  • 2 oranges quartered
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves smashed
  • ¼ cup kosher salt (not table salt)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • water to cover (about 9 cups)
  1. Add the pork, oranges, onion, salt, black peppercorns and bay leaves to a large heavy bottomed pot and cover with water about 9 cups. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon off any foam that arises then add the ground cumin. Cover the pot leaving the lis askew to vent and simmer for 1½ hours.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and let the pork cool in the broth with the lid off for 1 hour. Shred the meat and use as is or crisp it up under a broiler or in a fry pan. Serve with salsa, avocados, onion, cilantro and sour cream. Aww heck-serve it with whatever you like.
This is easily adapted to a slow cooker. Just adjust the salt accordingly.











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Simple Carnitas — 3 Comments

  1. Ken,
    Again have to rave over this recipe! So simple, but so incredibly delicious.
    I use cheesecloth bags in which I place the bay leaves and peppercorns to make things easier.
    DH was supposed to go to to the Secretary of State to register my “new” vehicle, but I made the mistake of telling him we were having your carnitas tonight. Now, he’s coming straight home, so I’m stranded one more day.

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