Hands down, this is the best ever carnitas recipe. You will make this over and over for your family and easy summer get togethers with friends not only because it is so utterly delicious, but because it is so incredibly hands off and easy to prepare. The recipe came to me originally from a class at The Pantry a few years ago. The cool thing about the process is that it is a reverse braise. Generally when braising meats, you sear a large cut (generally a tougher cut) of meat, then lower the heat and simmer it low and slow in liquid for a few hours and the result is magic. Tough cuts break down and become tender, moist and flavorful.
With the reverse braise, you skip the searing part. Cook low and slow first, then remove the lid, bring it up to a boil, cook off the liquid and the meat crisps on it's own. The result is also magic - tender, moist and flavorful but with a crispy, charred outer edge.
CARNITAS - serves 12
4 pounds pork shoulder
2 C water
1 1/2 C fresh squeezed orange juice (about 4-5 oranges)
3/4 C Mexican coke
5 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp kosher salt
4-5 pieces orange peel (pieces about 1-2")
Cut the pork into 2-3 inch chunks. Combine everything in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until pork is tender and the fat is liquefying, stirring occasionally, about two hours.
Uncover and boil the pork until the liquid evaporates and the meat browns and begins to crisp, stirring often. This should take about an hour. For reference, the photo below was taken with about 20 minutes left to go. It won't look pretty and you might wonder if you're on the right track. Don't worry, just keep stirring regularly.
And soon it will be crispy and perfect like this.
It is delicious served with corn tortillas, a little avocado and some shredded cabbage tossed with lime. Or just enjoy it as I did tonight next to a fat slab of avocado sprinkled with Maldon sea salt and cilantro, and some pickled red onion. They are also great as leftovers, just crisp them up in a fry pan...though they never last that long at our house.