Carnitas means “little meats.” Simple in technique yet complex in flavor, this is a recipe even a beginner can try with confidence. It uses the pork shoulder, which after slow cooking pulls into a thousand succulent little shreds. Delicious!
- 3 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- 2 cups apple cider
- 2 cups water
Bundle the marjoram, garlic, coriander, peppercorns and bay leaf in a small piece of cheesecloth. Tie the open end with butchers twine. Place the bundle, onion and salt in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven. Arrange the cubed meat in a single layer. Combine the water and cider and pour over the meat, just enough to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, turning the pork pieces occasionally until the meat is tender and falls apart easily when pierced with a fork, about one hour. Remove the herb bundle and onion and increase the heat to medium high. Cook until the liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and discard any pieces of fat that remain. Shred the meat with a fork and serve the carnitas in corn tortillas along with your choice of guacamole, salsa, sprigs of cilantro, sour cream and wedges of lime for squeezing.
This is the type of dish that goes perfectly with a chilly autumn day or a frosty winter afternoon. Braise them a day ahead and the flavor will deepen overnight in the refrigerator.
Serves 8 to 10.
Photo by Jodi Miller.