I searched high and low for an easy recipe for carnitas because that was part of what dissuaded me all these years. All the recipes I had seen called for cooking all freaking day long and I am not that patient...even if it means pure melt in your mouth taste. While searching, I found a recipe that caught my eye from the Homesick Texan, but it required minimum cooking for 4-5 hours. The next recipe I found had a footnote saying to use a pressure cooker to reduce cook time to 35 minutes! I HAVE A PRESSURE COOKER! And from my pulled pork sandwiches and red beans and rice, you know I'm not afraid to use it.
Alex and I bought a 5 pound pork shoulder...well, pork butt...but it really is a shoulder. I learned from Mike Rowe on Dirty Jobs that a pork shoulder is referred to as the butt, and the actual butt of a pig is a ham. Butt, back to the pork shoulder. :) Because it was just the two of us, I cut the shoulder in half and froze the left over meat. This cut of meat has a lot of fat on it. You should try to trim back as much as you can...but not all of it. There is a LOT of flavor in that fat!
Carnitas (adapted from Diana Kennedy) - from the Homesick Texan blog.
3 pounds of pork butt
1 cup of orange juice
3 cups of water
2 teaspoons of salt
Like I said...pretty simple. The only part of the recipe I followed after the ingredients was to cut the pork into strips, well 3 inches chunks and salted and peppered the crap out of it. I then seared the cubed pork until each side was nicely browned in the pressure cooker. I emptied the pork into a separate dish so I could put the metal part into the bottom of the pressure cooker. The metal piece has holes in it to keep the meat (or whatever you are cooking in it) from touching the bottom of the pan. I suspect because you keep the heat on close to high or medium high the whole time it is cooking. I put the pork back in with the orange juice and water...I also added two chicken bullion cubes for my entertainment. :) I sealed the pressure cooker and cooked it for 35 minutes at the first line. My pressure cooker has two lines to indicate how much pressure there is in the pan. I had to release a little bit of pressure a couple of times while it was cooking so it maintained the pressure at the first line.
You can't tell very well from this picture, but the pork was shredding just by touching it with the tongs.Homesick Texans Directions:
1. Cut pork into strips (three inches by one inch), bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 2 hours. Do not touch the meat.2. After two hours, turn heat up to medium high, and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered (about 45 minutes). Stir a few times, to keep pork from sticking to bottom of pan.3. When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready (there will be liquid fat in the pan). Serve either cubed or shredded (pork will be tender enough that just touching it will cause it to fall apart).Goes very well with a green salsas such as Ninfa's green sauce or this tomatillo salsa or this salsa verde with avocados and tomatillos.Serves 4-6
I dig the fact that the Homesick Texan included the suggestion for salsa verde, but again, I am not patient enough to make salsa when I am making a meal like carnitas...even if it is in the pressure cooker. I bought a bottle of Herdez salsa verde and kicked it up a bit.
Sarah's FREAKING AWESOME Salsa Verde:
1 - 16 oz. bottle of Herdez salsa verde
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 splash of lime juice
1/2 a serrano pepper with or without seeds
2 handfuls of cilantro, chopped
Mix all together and savor. You can really add any combination of the ingredients listed above. Warning...this salsa is FABULOUS!!!!
I warmed up some corn tortillas and served the pork with the salsa. You're going to love me for this one!!! The fact that I don't have a picture of the final product goes to show how amazing these babies turned out.