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Apparently we’ve been holding out on you! One of the most searched-for terms on A Family Feast is “Carnitas” and we are finally sharing our recipe today!
Our carnitas are another recipe inspired by The Edgewater Café, a North of Boston Mexican restaurant that my husband Jack worked at years ago which was hugely popular among the locals! While carnitas were actually not offered on The Edgewater’s menu, the head chef liked to talk and share recipes, and Jack listened well (and wrote the recipe down)!
To make carnitas (which literally means “little meats”), cubed pork butt is cooked low-and-slow in lard and citrus – then browned under the broiler. The result is an extremely moist texture with an amazing, flavorful caramelized crust!
Serve carnitas simply in a warmed, soft flour tortilla with some cilantro and chopped onion – or you can really go wild and smother it with toppings just as you would for a taco! But we actually like the carnitas simply served – the meat is SO good!
One last note – don’t be scared by cooking with lard! The lard, which can be found in many supermarket meat departments, is simply the cooking medium that helps keep the pork tender, and all is discarded after cooking. The pork does not retain the fat from the lard – and in fact, it gives up some of its own – and all you are left with is amazingly tender, delicious carnitas!
- 2½ – 3 pound pork butt, cut into large pieces at least 2×2 inches in size
- 1 pound lard (if you cannot find lard at your local market, use suet)
- ½ orange, skin on, quartered
- 1 lime, skin on, quartered
- 4 medium garlic cloves skinned and left whole, slightly smashed
- 1 jalapeno stemmed and sliced into ½ inch rings, seeds left in
- 1 medium onion, skinned and quartered
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup bacon fat
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- In a 9x11x2 casserole dish, or similar volume oven-proof vessel, place all ingredients. Cover with parchment and foil and bake for five hours.
- Remove from oven and scoop out meat with a hand strainer or spider strainer. Dispose of remaining liquids and solids.
- Place cooked pork on a foil-lined sheet pan brushed with the olive oil and place under broiler for five minutes. If the bottoms seem too wet, flip the pork and broil the other side for another minute or two. This step needs to be watched – you want the meat to caramelize without burning it or drying it out.
- Serve simply in a warmed flour tortilla with chopped onion and cilantro.
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