Take the work out of carnitas with this simplified recipe for carnitas sous vide.
I’d never had carnitas until I moved to Austin, where slow-cooked meats are king. For those un-indoctrinated, carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or lard for hours until tender, along with a whole host of spices and seasonings. We’re going to not only simplify this process, but turn out meat more tender and perfectly cooked than braising or slow cookers could every achieve.
Plan in advance for this one – cooking the shoulder can take 24-72 hours, but you’ll have carnitas for days!
We’ll start with some of the pulled pork from our Sous Vide Pork Shoulder (recipe here) cooked at 140°F (60ºC) for 24-72 hrs. If your plan for the shoulder is only carnitas (I like to split mine up into BBQ, carnitas, and enchiladas), you can choose or create a spice rub that includes cumin, coriander, and bay leaf. But if you don’t, fear not, because we’ll add it all as we fry it up.
Shred the cooked pork with forks or fingers.
Heat up a couple tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Go a bit on the heavy side with the oil, because we want to get that lovely fried quality, (and we skipped the part where you cook it in oil for three hours).
Add the pork along with spices: cumin, coriander, garlic, salt. If you’re feeling it, you can throw in oregano and marjoram. This is your dish – do it up your way! I like to add smoked paprika for extra dimension.
Stir, stir, stir. Your pork is already cooked, so you’re just looking to crisp it up here and impart those gorgeous flavors.
Once you’ve got that under control, chop together some white onion and cilantro. Raw onion. Raw. Rawr. It’s got bite! Also I hate hate hate cilantro, so you know I’m doing this for you.
Serve on warm corn tortillas with wedges of lime. Super yum! (except for that cilantro part) And since this is your own creation, you can add whatever else you want. I go super in-authentic and add cheese and salsa because I love it!
I hope you create your own renditions of carnitas, because they’re delicious and addictive. And you never know when Chipotle might stop serving it again, so it’s best to be self-sufficient.
- 4-5 pound pork shoulder
- 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 pounds pre-cooked, shredded pork shoulder (see recipe link above)
- ½ teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, salt
- 1 white onion
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 lime
- Set water bath to 140°F (60°C).
- Rub your shoulder with spice mixture and seal in bag.
- Place the packet in the water bath for 48 hours.
- Pat dry and give the roast a quick sear on all sides in a really hot pan.
- Grab two forks and pull the pork apart.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in pan until sizzling hot.
- Add 2 pounds (about half the roast) of shredded pork and fry until crisp.
- Drain fried pork on paper towels.
- Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in pan.
- Add 2 pounds of shredded pork along with ½ teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, salt.
- Stir and dry until crispy.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Chop onion and cilantro together.
- Heat up corn tortillas in oven, microwave (10 seconds) or open gas flame.
- Stack two tortillas together, and top with pork, onion and cilantro.
- Serve with lime wedges. Salsa optional ;)