Carnitas are one of the most delicious offerings to come out of Mexico and this particular recipe is truly special. For the best results use a very fatty cut of pork, such as boneless country-style ribs or pork shoulder (butt). For more information on this unique method of preparation please CLICK HERE to visit our blog on the subject.
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ vegetable olive oil
2 pounds, boneless, fatty country-style ribs or pork shoulder, cut into 3/4 - 1 inch pieces
Zest from 2 oranges (grated with a micro-grater and excluding the white pitch
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
2. Make the cooking liquid. Mix together the milk, orange juice, thyme, garlic, and salt and reserve it.
3. Brown the pork. Heat a heavy and deep 9 – 10 inch Dutch oven (iron works very well) over high heat. Add about one-half of the vegetable oil, then add one-half the meat and allow it to cook, untouched, for about 30 seconds, then stir-fry it until it is sealed and browned all over. Remove the meat to a dish and repeat the browning process with the remaining meat. Add back the first batch of browned meat, remove the pot from the heat, and allow it to cool for about one minute
3. Cook the pork. Add the reserved cooking liquid to the slightly cooled pot, and bring the liquid to a boil, being careful because milk can easily boil over and cause a mess. Place the simmering ingredients in the preheated oven and bake for 1½ hours, stirring at least every 20 minutes. By that time, most of the liquid will have either evaporated and the meat and cheese-like bits from the milk be beginning to brown, or there will still be a quantity of liquid in the Dutch oven. In the latter case, the dish will look like a mess, but don’t worry, it will be perfect in just a few minutes.
4. Finishing and serving the carnitas. If the carnitas are done just a little early, they should still be fine, but check your oven temperature to make sure it is not higher than it should be. On the other hand, if all the liquid has not evaporated or if the carnitas are not yet a crisp golden brown, remove the pot from the oven and place it on a burner set to just over medium heat. Fry the carnitas and the bits of cheese curd until all the cooking liquid has evaporated and they are a crisp golden brown. In any case, about 30 seconds before the carnitas are finished, stir in the orange zest. Serve the carnitas with hot corn tortillas, guacamole, and your favorite salsas, so that diners can make their own simple but spectacular tacos.