The Best Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

Prep Time: ~15 Minutes

Cook Time: ~360 minutes

Roasting environment: 650° F

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-5 lbs pork shoulder/butt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cup low sodium chickenchicken stock (plus 2 more for braising later)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped and deseeded
  • Wet Spice Rub:
    • 3 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
    • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
    • 2 tsp EACH salt, dried oregano
    • 1 tsp EACH chili, garlic, and onion powders
    • 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, pepper
    • 1/2 - 1 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper (optional - for more heat)

Rinse and dry the pork, and sprinkle with sea salt and rub in. Then mix the ingredients for the rub together, then rub onto all sides of the pork. Place the pork fat side up onto the bottom of a small cast iron roasting pan, then top with the ingredients from the first part of the recipe. Cover tightly with foil and put into the oven. The pork will take about 4 hours (rotate the pan every half hour) to become very tender. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to keep the oven up to temperature and keep an eye on the liquid level in the roasting pan. You will likely need to add the remaining cups of chicken stock a couple of hours into the process to keep the braising liquid from totally evaporating. You will need the braising liquid for later so don't toss it!

Once the meat is done and tender, remove from roasting pan and allow to cool (remember to save the braising liquid!), and then pull apart using forks. Discard the fat and set the meat aside.

You should be left with about 2 cups of braising liquid (if you have a lot more than that you can reduce it). Skim the fat off the top of the liquid. This liquid is very flavorful and will add to the taste of the meat.

In a preheated cast iron skillet, heat about a tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil and then put a layer of pork onto the bottom of the skillet and let sear. Spoon some of the braising liquid onto the pork while it is cooking to season it and keep it from drying up. We suggest you only sear the one side and keep the other side nice and tender. The carnitas are ready when the juices have evaporated from the pan and the pork is crispy on the bottom.

Keeping the door closed on the oven and letting the smoke flow around the meat will really enhance the flavor. This is sure to be a family favorite!