Moist, juicy, tender with crisp, brown edges, and incredibly flavorful Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas cooked completely in the oven, with more spices, lime juice, milk, tequila and lard (or vegetable oil) to impart as much flavor as possible! Very easy to make, these oven roasted carnitas freeze really well, and are PERFECT for a variety of tasty options like tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas or just eat it by hand as it is!
Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!
This is one recipe I’ve been wanting to share with you guys for AGES! I just seem to have too many of those these days. Then I wanted to share it in good time for Cinco de Mayo, but life got in the way of that too. But you know what? ANY day of the year is a good day for easy, ridiculously flavorful Mexican food, and these Tequila Braised Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas are an absolute hit too!
I’ve got a few more of these delicious Mexican recipes coming up on the blog over the next week, so make sure to come back and check ’em out – you never know what will end up being a staple in your house! I’ve made these recipes over and over again, with little tweaks, additions, and subtractions, and today I’m sharing my favorite recipe for the most amazing carnitas I’ve ever had!
It took a while to get there though. I’ve had a horrible, not so good, very bad history with any kind of shredded meat. I grew up eating immorally dry pulled pork and shredded chicken or worse – the kind that’s drenched in thick sauce to artificially give it artificial moistness and artificial flavor. The kind that has no bite and is soggy like a full diaper.
How did that happen? I have no idea. So I swore off such delectable goodness for a long time, until I realized that hey, I’m not the queen to always have my food prepared for me, I can make it myself. So I made it myself. And now I can’t get enough of it!
I wanted legit pork carnitas that are perfectly cooked, full of incredible flavor, melt-in-your-mouth moist and juicy (but not soggy!), with crisp, browned edges. And these slow, oven roasted pork carnitas are the result!
I adapted the recipe for these slow roasted pork carnitas from this one at Serious Eats. I do love that recipe, but I just wanted my carnitas injected with even more flavor. I added some of that flavorful stock that comes out of the slow roasted pork, back into it. I also added plenty of spices and more liquid like lime juice (to give it a really nice tang), milk (for a hint of creaminess) and tequila. I also used 1/2 cup of lard (or vegetable oil) in this recipe to give that little bit of necessary fat so that you get tender, moist, juicy meat at the end. The addition of liquid in the way of lime juice, milk and tequila (optional – the alcohol is cooked off in the process, leaving you with only the flavor) may dilute the flavors marginally, but overall I feel that the different flavor profiles that they yield to these slow roasted pork carnitas make them that much more delicious!
The addition of those liquids also means that you end up with more “stock”. I added some of it back to the pork, and used the rest to make THE MOST AMAZING enchilada sauce
(recipe coming next week!) get the Green Enchilada Sauce recipe right here. And another reason why you’d love this recipe is that it’s cooked in the oven, and not in a slow cooker. I’m a little picky about cooking in a slow cooker, so this recipe is a keeper for me.
So what about the cut of meat? As you’ll find elsewhere on the internet, you need a piece of meat that has a good amount of fat content, can withstand long braising time, and soak up flavors easily. So the pork butt is the way to go here. That’s the pork shoulder by the way, not the rear end. If you want to read more about that, check it out here.
The amount of liquid and fat that you’re left with in this recipe can vary depending on how much fat you’ve got in your cut of meat. I was left with approximately 2 cups of liquid and 1/2 cup of fat. If you’re left with more than 2 cups of stock, you can return it to the stove (without the fat layer) and simmer until it reduces to 2 cups (or less). The flavor in this stock is truly incredible, so I recommend adding it back to your carnitas to make use of that great flavor. And if you’re not going to use some of it for an enchilada sauce like I did, you can save it up to be used for soup, or even better – to cook some rice with it!
These tequila braised slow roasted pork carnitas are irresistibly moist, juicy and fork tender and can be shredded easily. And then they are spread out on a tray in a single layer and broiled for about 10 minutes to get those characteristic crisp, brown edges that make these oven roasted carnitas an absolute delight to eat! Plus, it keeps REALLY well. You can freeze it for a good long while (freeze it before the broiling step), or refrigerate for a couple of days (it tastes even better the next day! How is that even possible?).
If you want the recipe for some DELICIOUS Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde (Seriously easy to make!), just check out the recipe here 🙂
As you can see this recipe is ridiculously easy. You do need a good dose of patience though, because this baby takes some time. But it’ll all be worth your while at the end, when you get to eat some out of this world flavorful slow roasted pork carnitas! And think of all the ways in which you could use it – tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas and etc. This recipe gives you about 6-8 servings, so if you doubled the recipe, you could easily feed an entire crowd! You can make it a day ahead, and crisp it up in the oven on the day you serve it. Or cook it on the weekend, freeze and turn it into several delicious weekday meals for you and your family!
Tequila Braised Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas (Oven Roasted Carnitas)
- 4 lb pork butt without the rind, boneless with some fat on it
- 2 small onions or 1 large onion quartered
- 2 limes quartered
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp Mexican oregano or ½ tbsp regular oregano
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 5 - 6 garlic cloves you can leave them whole
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 3 jalapenos sliced lengthwise
- ½ cup lard or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup Reposado gold tequila
- ¼ cup milk or cream or water if you want to keep it dairy-free
- Preheat oven to 275°F.
- Cut the pork butt roughly into 3 inch pieces.
- Place the cut up pork in an oven-safe casserole dish (or dutch oven), along with the onions- mine was a 9 inch square dish that fit all the pork snugly.
- Sprinkle the oregano, cumin, coriander, sugar and salt over the meat and mix it in well until all of the pork is coated well with the spices.
- Tuck the garlic cloves and jalapeno inside the pork pieces.
- Squeeze the lime juice from the quartered lime wedges on top, and tuck the wedges inside the pork pieces as well.
- Mix the extra lime juice, tequila, milk and oil in a small container and pour it over the pork pieces. Press the pork into the marinade to make sure it's all snugly packed.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil, and slow roast in the oven for about 3.5 hours. Remove from the oven and lift the edge of the foil and check if the meat is fork tender (use a fork and pull apart a piece of meat). If not, cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes (the exact time depends on the oven and the dish you use - my oven usually takes 3.5 hours, but I have left it in there for up to 4 hours occasionally).
- Remove from the oven. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and the pieces of pork from the dish. Strain the liquid ("stock") left in the dish and discard the onion, garlic, jalapeno and lime peel.
- Gently skim off oil from the surface of the stock and return that oil to the pork (you can use a spoon or an oil separating jug if you have one, to do this). Add another ¼ cup of the remaining stock to the pork as well.
- Shred the pork using two forks. Then let the meat rest a little while and soak up the liquid (overnight would be best, but not necessary).
- Before serving, prepare the broiling rack (or an oven tray) by covering it with some foil.
- Turn on the broil setting in your oven.
- Place the pork on the tray, spread it out and let it crisp up in the oven (mine took no longer than 10 minutes, so keep an eye on it!). Mix up the carnitas carefully and broil it again one more time (to get more browned, crispy bits). Now they are ready to be served.
- These slow roasted pork carnitas can be served as is, with some rice and beans. Or in tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, etc.
Now think tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, taquitos (flautas), chalupas?? The possibilities are endless and these slow roasted pork carnitas are where it all begins!
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