I have shared my intense love/obsession with authentic and traditional tasting Mexican food on this blog over and over again. I could honestly eat Mexican food 3 times a week and be happy as a clam! Being that I no longer live in the mecca of good Mexican food, I have to figure out ways to recreate my own.
Carnitas are hands down one of my favorite items I will order off of any good Mexican food menu. I have fond memories of attending many different events growing up and watching the men cook carnitas in large copper pots filled with lard. The result was a perfectly flavored but not over seasoned meat that was crispy yet melts in your mouth. Seriously, nothing beats good carnitas. And I have been haunted with trying to find the right recipe to recreate this love of mine.
Most recipes I see season the meat way too much and impart flavors that aren’t there in the authentic recipe. Many recipes taste similar but they are lacking those crispy edges that form while they fry in the copper pot. FINALLY, thanks to Serious Eats, I found a recipe that is spot on! Or as close as I can get to carnitas without finding myself a copper pot to fry in. Of course, I converted this recipe to utilize in my Instant Pot.
Carnitas from pot to table in about an hour and a half, perfection. Feel free to garnish with your favorite toppings. Mine include salsa verde, diced onions and cilantro, spicy pickled carrots or potatoes, and some white Mexican cheese.
This recipe yields a lot for two people, but it easily freezes and re-heats well without drying out. This recipe fit perfectly into my 6 quart instant pot, however, if you have a larger pressure cooker or you are utilizing an oven, feel free to double the recipe.
- 3-4 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
- salt and pepper
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half (optional)
- 1 medium orange, quartered
- Layer chunks of pork in Instant Pot, being sure to season each layer with salt and pepper. Add garlic cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick (if used) to the top. Over the top, squeeze the orange quarters over the pork and nestle juiced quarters into the pork. Set Instant Pot to Manual for 70 minutes at High Pressure. You can also cover with foil and bake at 275 degrees until pork is fork tender, about 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
- Once pork is done, using a mesh strainer, strain the pork from the liquid and pour onto empty baking sheet. Remove the bay leaves, orange pieces, and cinnamon sticks from the pork. Shred the pork into chunks with two forks, this should be easy to do as the pork is tender.
- Place baking sheet with shredded pork in the oven under broil. Broil until pork is brown and begins to crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove pork and give it a good stir exposing non-crispy parts. Add back to oven and broil again for 6 more minutes until crisp.
- Serve with favorite taco toppings and enjoy!