1. The Pork:
Use pork with the skin removed but leaving some of the fat cap on. The fat adds juiciness to the carnitas - and excess fat can be skimmed off later.
: Recipe fine as is for 1.7 - 2.5kg / 3.5 - 5 lb pork. If larger / smaller, scale recipe using recipe scaler (hover/click on servings and slide) and the other ingredients will change. These are boneless pork weights (add 0.5kg/1lb for bone):
1 - 1.5 kg / 2 - 3 lb: 8 hours on low.
1.5 - 3 kg / 3 - 6 lb: Cook time per recipe.
3 - 4 kg / 6 - 8 lb: Use large oval slow cooker, 12 hours on low.
2. Other cooking methods:
Electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot
: 1 h 30 minutes on high. Let pressure release naturally. Proceed with Step 5 of recipe.
Stove pressure cooker
: use a rack or balls of scrunched up foil to elevate it from the base OR add 3/4 cup of water. Cook 1 h 30 minutes. Proceed with Step 5 of recipe.
Follow recipe but put pork in roasting pan. Add 2 cups water around pork. Cover tightly with foil, roast in 325F/160C oven for 2 hours, then roast for a further 1 to 1.5 hours uncovered. Add more water if the liquid dries out too much. You should end up with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid when it finishes cooking, and you can skip the pan frying step because you will get a nice brown crust on your pork. Shred pork then drizzled with juices.
3. Taco Fixings:
Diced avocado or make a real proper Guacamole
, Pico de Gallo
or Restaurant Style Salsa
or even just sliced tomato, grated cheese, sour cream. Sliced lettuce or pickled cabbage / red onions would also be great, but unlike other tacos, you don't need it for the texture because the carnitas have the crispy bits! Also see this Carnitas Tacos
4. Other Ways to use Carnitas: Burritos
(switch for the beef), Quesadillas
(baked version here
, with Mexican Red Rice
, in Taco Soup
or Enchilada Soup
5. Storing / Make Ahead:
Crispiness is retained very well, main thing is loss of moisture as meat cools (happens with all meat, shredded meat cools faster).
a) Best way to store:
Shred pork but don't pan fry. Keep pork and juice separate, refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months (for freezer, I put pork in containers/ bags and put juice in ziplock bags in the same container).
Gently reheat juice to make it pourable (congeals when cold). Pan fry per recipe, drizzling with juice.
b) Storing leftovers after pan frying:
Keeps extremely well, but tends to lose juiciness when it cools down. Just drizzle with juice, cover with cling wrap and reheat - the crispy bits hold up very well. It's not quite as crispy as when cooked fresh, but still seriously tasty.
c) Brown pork a few hours ahead / keep warm:
Works extremely well. Brown pork per recipe, then transfer to slow cooker on warm setting or food warmer and drizzle generously with juices to keep it moist. Cover loosely. As long as the pork is warm when served, it's really juicy. The crispiness holds up extremely well.
This is a recipe I've been making for over a decade now, with minor tweaks over time so I can't remember the exact source. I want to say Rick Bayless but I can't find the recipe, however, I did find this one
from Food Network which is very similar. However, I'm not sure when it was published.
per serving, pork only, assuming 12 servings. Calories is higher than it actually is because it does not take into account discarded fat.