Now, I may just be a humble Indigenous/Latine guy with a special interest in cooking and baking, but that doesn’t mean you need to have spend several months consuming every piece of media related to food because your ADHD demands you follow the dopamine. Nope, you just need the time and money it takes to get the ingredients to prepare what is one of my favorite meats in Mexican cooking: Pork Carnitas. Carnitas, translating to “little meats,” is a dish that is cooked in oil, or manteca/lard if we’re being true to form, for several hours and served with the expected Mexican accompaniment: refried beans, cilantro, rice, and probably music.
Prep Time: 2 hours (downtime) and 15 minutes (active)
Cooking Time: 3-4 hours
Servings: Depends on serving method, but anywhere from 5-10
Boneless Pork Butt, 3-5 lbs.
Manteca/Lard, 5 lbs.
One Medium White Onion
One Garlic Bulb
One Large Orange
2-4 Lemons, depending on size
Three Bay Leaves
Two Whole Cloves
One Bunch of Thyme
One 5 oz. Can of Evaporated Milk
One 12 oz. Bottle of Coke, Glass Bottle Preferred
One 12 oz. Bottle of Modelo, Glass Bottle Preferred
Large Heavy Bottomed Pot/Dutch Oven
Large Knife and Cutting Board(s)
Pat pork dry and cut into 2”-3” cubes. Season liberally with salt and the lemon juice from the lemons and let rest in your refrigerator for two hours. Note: Season very liberally with salt. Looking at you, white people.
With about 15-20 minutes left on the pork, heat up the manteca so it is between 350o and 375o F and maintain that temp. If you’re particular like me, 360o is the sweet spot.
Peel and quarter the onion; halve the garlic horizontally; and halve the orange while the manteca is heating up. Or wait until needed; this recipe is rather forgiving.
Leave the Modelo and Coke out at room temperature (but keep ‘em sealed). Pouring cold liquid in hot fat will not be a fun time for you, the stove, or (possibly) your house.
Fry pork until golden brown. No, really; that’s it. Depending on your pot and stove, that can be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Just keep an eye on the pork and the temp of the manteca, and you’ll be all right.
Once golden brown, add the onion and garlic, followed by the thyme and cloves.
Lower the temperature so the manteca is simmering, then add the orange. Squeeze the juice into the pot and drop in that peel.
Add roughly half the can of evaporated milk, as well as half the bottle of Coke and half the bottle of Modelo. If you were unable to get the recommended sizes, you’ll need 2-3 tbsps. evaporated milk, and 2/3 cup each of Coke and Modelo. (Measurements made with standard dry cup measures. Ya know, the one for flour and the like.)
Let simmer for a good two, two-and-a-half hours, adjusting the heat as necessary.
After those couple of hours, the pork will (hopefully, it tends to vary) be fall apart tender. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set into a bowl or similar container to shred, either by tongs or with two forks.
Serve with rice and beans, like I did, or with whatever you deem appropriate, such as in a torta or burrito or even on “asada fries.” Carnitas can be rather indulgent, so keep that in mind when making your plate.
Oh, and enjoy.