I’m now well into my sixth month of being obsessed with tacos. Seriously, we’ve been eating them at least once a week for more than a half year, and I’m not even close to getting sick of them. Tacos al pastor? Sure. Spicy shredded beef? Yes. And then there are these amazing carnitas tacos that we’ve been enjoying. They’re perfect to prepare in advance (and I live for meals like this in the summer), they’re healthy (if you don’t go overboard), and they’re oh so tasty.
Carnitas, or “little meats”, can be served simply as a stand-alone dish, but I love it in these tacos even more. It’s a new addition to my repetoire, which also includes these, and these– both of which are also favorites. This carnitas version combines the lively flavors of lime and orange, which pair beautifully with pork, cumin, and garlic. The recipe couldn’t be simpler– you can make it on the stovetop. Perfect for when firing up the oven in the summer heat doesn’t sound so tantalizing. Put all of the ingredients into a pot, no sautéing required. When cutting your pork shoulder up into cubes, don’t trim off any fat– you’re going to need that so the meat doesn’t get dry. Let it cook down for about 2 hours and then sear the pork at the end. That’s it. Did I mention that it’s completely delicious?
The fresh tomatillo salsa is a fantastic compliment to the carnitas. You may be tempted to buy a ready-made salsa from the store, but don’t. The freshness of this topping cannot be bottled and you’ll end up spending more on a store-bought version that pales in comparison. It only takes a minute to either chop or pulse the ingredients together– definitely worth your time. And as far as toppings go, I’m stuck on queso fresco cheese, white onions, and cilantro. The combination is sublime and it tastes so fresh. Hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.
The Recipe: Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa
For the Carnitas:
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes (do not trim the fat)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted then ground
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6-7 garlic cloves, chopped
Corn tortillas, queso fresco cheese, limes, cilantro, and white onions for toppings
For the Tomatillo Salsa:
1/2 medium white onion
4 garlic cloves
small handful of cilantro (around 1/3 cup)
juice of 1 lime
To make the Carnitas: Place all of the ingredients into a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to just cover the pork. Bring to a boil, then simmer the pork uncovered for about 2 hours. Do not touch the pork. Let it do it’s thing. After 2 hours, bring the heat up to medium/high and begin reducing the liquid for about the next 45 minutes. When the liquid is mostly gone, sear all the sides of the pork pieces. They will be tender and practically fall apart. Keep a watchful eye at this point, as you don’t want them to burn.
To make the Tomatillo Salsa: Rough chop the ingredients and place them into a food processor and give them a few pulses until the salsa is your desired consistency. Alternatively, you can chop all of the ingredients by hand. Make sure to season correctly with salt.
Source: Carnitas recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan
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