Carnitas literally means “little meats” in Spanish and is a type of braised or roasted pork in Mexican cuisine. They’re usually cooked and rendered in their own fat. They’re also delicious and so easy!
1.5 kg pork shoulder or rump
cold water to just cover
2 teaspoons salt and cumin to taste
A large cast iron pan or heavy pot
Choose a piece of pork that has a decent amount of fat on it so that it will brown properly on its own. If the piece you have is lean, you can put a little bit of vegetable oil into the pan (as opposed to lard.)
If there is skin, remove that. Cut the meat fat and all, into slightly larger than bite-sized chunks. Cover the meat with water (not too much to start, just enough to cover) in a seasoned deep cast iron pan (making this dish a few times will season a new cast iron pan well.) Add the salt and cumin and bring to boil uncovered.
Lower the heat to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the water has evaporated — between 1-2 hours, depending on the size of your pan. By this time the meat should be cooked, but not falling apart. If the meat is still hard when the water has evaporated, add more water and continue cooking until tender.
Once tender, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking the meat until all the fat has cooked down. Keep turning the meat until it’s browned. It will almost look crispy. This will take another hour.
You now have carnitas! Good whole or shred by hand once cooked and add to tacos, burritos or by themselves. They’re delicious with any combination of the following accompaniments: lemon or lime juice, fresh diced onion, sliced radishes, salsa, guacamole or avocado slices, jalapeño and/or chopped cilantro (coriander) in a heated corn tortilla taco.
Carnitas taco shown with frijoles, guacamole and a tomato salsa containing diced onion, cilantro, jalapeños.