Mexican Dry Carnitas Pulled Pork
- 2kg / 4lb pork shoulder or pork butt
- 2 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 onion or shallot
- 1 jalapeno, de-seed to be less spicy
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3/4 cup orange juice or 1 orange, washed and halved
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Rinse and dry the pork shoulder, rub all over with salt and pepper
- Combine the Rub ingredients, then rub all over pork
- Place the pork in slow cooker (fat cap up), top with onion or shallot, jalapeno, garlic (doesn’t need to be spread), finish it off with orange juice or two orange halves
- Slow cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours. See notes for different pork size and cooking methods
- When cooked, pork should be tender enough to shread easily. Remove from slow cooker and let cool slightly. Then shred using two forks.
- If you have a lot more than 2 cups of juice, then reduce it over heat down to about 2 cups. The liquid will be salty, it is the seasoning for the pork. Set liquid aside – don’t bother straining onion etc, it’s super soft. Serve over pork.
- Serve on a bed of rice or on your favourite taco vessel (tortilla, lettuce cup).
- Toppings: lime, cilantro, salsa, hot sauce, sour cream or cilantro yogurt sauce, avocado, whatever you like!
- Lazy tip: You don’t need to mince the garlic or chop the onions per say (I don’t when I’m in a rush to get this started before going off to work!). It does give it more flavour so do keep that in mind.
- Optional: Skim off the fat from the juices remaining in the slow cooker and discard. I don’t advocate for this because fat = flavour but you have the option to do this.
- The Pork: Use pork with the skin removed but leaving some of the fat cap on. The fat adds juiciness to the carnitas – and excess fat can be skimmed off later.
- Different sizes: Recipe fine as is for 1.7 – 2.5kg / 3.5 – 5 lb pork. If larger / smaller, scale recipe using recipe scaler (hover/click on servings and slide) and the other ingredients will change. These are boneless pork weights (add 0.5kg/1lb for bone):
- 1 – 1.5 kg / 2 – 3 lb: 8 hours on low.
- 1.5 – 3 kg / 3 – 6 lb: Cook time per recipe.
- 3 – 4 kg / 6 – 8 lb: Use large oval slow cooker, 12 hours on low.
- Other cooking methods:
- Electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot: 1 h 30 minutes on high. Let pressure release naturally. Proceed with Step 5 of recipe.
- Stove pressure cooker: use a rack or balls of scrunched up foil to elevate it from the base OR add 3/4 cup of water. Cook 1 h 30 minutes. Proceed with Step 5 of recipe.
- Oven: Follow recipe but put pork in roasting pan. Add 2 cups water around pork. Cover tightly with foil, roast in 325F/160C oven for 2 hours, then roast for a further 1 to 1.5 hours uncovered. Add more water if the liquid dries out too much. You should end up with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid when it finishes cooking, and you can skip the pan frying step because you will get a nice brown crust on your pork. Shred pork then drizzled with juices.
- Taco Fixings: Diced avocado or make a real proper Guacamole, Pico de Gallo or Restaurant Style Salsa or even just sliced tomato, grated cheese, sour cream. Sliced lettuce or pickled cabbage / red onions would also be great, but unlike other tacos, you don’t need it for the texture because the carnitas have the crispy bits! Also see this Carnitas Tacos dinner spread.
- Other Ways to use Carnitas: Burritos (switch for the beef), Quesadillas (baked version here), Enchiladas, Sliders, with Mexican Red Rice, in Taco Soup or Enchilada Soup.