Carnitas has always been a family favorite. The topic of amazing carnitas came up when my husband and I first started dating. And so began my long journey of perfecting the recipe. I’ve tried variations on recipe and cooking technique, with mostly wins and a few minor loses. Here is the recipe that I have come to use over the years. I hope your family enjoys sharing this Mexican favorite as much as we do!
Measure and mix herbs and spices. Combine in a bowl, baggie or with a mortar and pestle. Set aside. Thoroughly rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry with towels. Evenly distribute the herb and spice rub onto your cut of pork shoulder. Lightly rub to saturate- be careful not to over rub, the outside should be relatively dry to the touch. Over rubbing can cause the rub mixture to stick to itself- resulting in uneven seasoning.
Heat oven to 400° (F) (Note: This recipe is prepared using a dutch oven- after searing you can transfer to a crock pot if you prefer.) Heat your cooking medium in the bottom of a large heavy bottomed pan. Sear all sides of the meat, allowing each side to finish searing before moving on to the next side. Roughly 1-2 minutes per side. Deglaze and scrape the bottom of the pan with a squeeze of juice from the orange. Reduce heat to low and add Coke, onion, garlic, herbs and remainder or the orange. Cover with lid and transfer to the oven. Cook 1 hour.
After the first hour, stir to combine the ingredients, remove the lid and reduce heat to 375° (F). Periodically mix or baste as needed. Depending on how hot your oven runs, how long you want to cook your carnitas and how much surface area is in your cooking vessel- you may want to add a little more liquid. After 4 hours, remove any bones and shred the pork with two forks. The meat should be tender and fall off the bone. All the ingredients including the onions, garlic and orange have cooked down and infused their flavor into the meat.
How you serve your carnitas is up to you- I like to enjoy handmade corn tortillas, avocado & cilantro. And a cold margarita or cerveza. Pray for leftovers- this recipe is even better the next day! Think Machaca con Huevo. So good.