When we go out for Mexican, I almost always order these golden bits of piggy goodness. I kept trying to make them at home, but had a hard time duplicating the combination of crispness and tenderness that really makes this dish work so well.
Truly authentic versions slowly fry the pork in lard. This recipe uses a kind of reverse braise to achieve a very similar and tasty result.
I like making this in a Dutch oven on the Big Green Egg. You could do this recipe in the oven or on the stove, but then you’re missing out on all the wonderful flavor that wood smoke brings to the party.
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast (aka Boston Butt)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
Set your grill up for at least a three hour cook over indirect heat at 300°F. I used a little oak for smoke.
Cut pork into chucks, discarding any big pieces of connective tissue, but keeping all of the fat. The size of the chunks depends on how you like your carnitas. We like them fine and crispy, so I cut the meat into 2-inch pieces. Cut them larger if you like yours big and tender.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large Dutch oven with a lid. If necessary, add more broth or water so that the pork is just covered in liquid.
Put the covered pot on the grill and let simmer until pork is tender, stirring occasionally, about an hour and a half, adding more water if necessary to keep pork partially submerged. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Uncover the pot and continue cooking until liquid evaporates and the meat begins to brown. If there’s not enough fat rendered from the pork, add another 1/4 cup peanut oil. Continue cooking until the meat starts to get crisp. Check and stir about every 15 minutes until the meat is crispy, but not dry or burned.
Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Cool the meat slightly and discard any pieces of fat or gristle.
Serve with warm corn tortillas, salsa, diced onions, and guacamole.