Thursday, January 12, 2012

Carnitas Tacos

I think it's safe to say by now that I am a huge taco fan. I think this is my fourth taco recipe in under a year on this blog. I tend to serve tacos when we have guests over for dinner because it's easy to allow everyone to customize their ingredients and really only the meat requires cooking, which makes it an easy fix and keeps me out of the kitchen.

Normally, this recipe would be made with pork shoulder or pork butt instead of the pork loin I used here. Unfortunately, the grocery store in Gunnison didn't carry either of the preferred cuts, so at the recommendation of the butcher I used the loin cut instead. One benefit of using the loin is that it's a leaner cut which means it's lighter.

The "margarita bath" of orange and lime juices with salt that the pork is braised in really comes through the meat in the tacos. Additionally, after braising the pork was juicy and tender and extremely flavorful, even without all the marbled fat that the preferred cuts would provide. I highly recommend this recipe for your next Tex Mex or taco night.

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Carnitas Tacos

2 lbs boneless pork loin (or pork shoulder or butt if you prefer)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
tortillas, and toppings for the tacos

Cut the pork into 2 inch cube pieces and place in a large, heavy bottomed non-stick dutch oven or pot. (I didn't have one so I used a large enameled cast iron casserole skillet and it worked fine)
 Pour in the orange juice
 and lime juice over the pork.
 Using the flat side of your knife, crush the garlic cloves
 and place them among the pork cubes.
 Add the cumin
 and salt
 and top with enough water to barely cover the top of the meat.
 Bring it to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
 Simmer the pork on low for two hours uncovered, not touching the meat at all. After two hours increase the heat to medium high.
 Continue to cook, turning occasionally until the liquid thickens then evaporates. Keep turning the meat to brown the edges until all the liquid is gone.
 Shred the pork in a good processor.
Serve with tortillas and all the fixins and enjoy.

 P.S. We had a lot left over and discovered that leftover carnitas are great on nachos and in breakfast tacos.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

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