For the unfamiliar, carnitas means “little pieces of meat” in Spanish and as far as I’m concerned, carnitas tacos made with juicy, succulent shredded pork are the gold standard of any taqueria. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a killer taqueria close to home, don’t fret because they are impossibly easy to make and a great meal to cook for a crowd. Many recipes call for cooking the pork in lard with spices and citrus, some are even call for simmering the pork in milk, but I think when it comes to carnitas, less is truly more. Seriously, the only ingredients for perfect pork tacos are: the best pork shoulder or butt you can find, water, and salt. That’s it. The meat is cooked slowly and carefully over low heat and the technique results in pieces of pork that are tender, juicy, and crisp all-in-one and they are perfect to dress up with any garnishes you like. Try warm corn tortillas, finely chopped white onion, cilantro, radishes, lime wedges, sliced avocado, pickled carrots and maybe some cotija cheese and don’t forget about a can of icy cold beer and lots of friends.
Easy Carnitas Tacos
Make sure to start with high quality pork with a good amount of fat, as it’s flavor will really shine here.
3 pounds pork shoulder, skin and bone removed
cold water to barely cover
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Cut the meat, with the fat, into roughly 1’’ chunks. Barely cover the meat with water in a pot, stir in the salt, and bring it to a boil uncovered.
Lower the heat until the water is simmering and let the meat continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated. About 1 hour. The meat should be cooked through and starting to fall apart at this point.
Turn the pan all of the way down to low and continue to cook the meat until all the fat has rendered. Keep turning the meat until it is lightly browned all over. About 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Serve the carnitas with warm corn tortillas, finely chopped white onion, cilantro, radishes, lime wedges, sliced avocado and cotija cheese if desired.