Harris Teeter had Boston butts on sale the other day, so I picked one up, not really sure how I was going to prepare it. Since Cinco de Mayo was approaching, I decided to try my hand at carnitas soft tacos, which I’ve been ordering quite a bit lately whenever we go out for Mexican food. Carnitas is Mexican for “little meats” and is simply small bits or shreds of well browned pork used as snacks or fillings for tacos or burritos.
For my carnitas, I pulled ingredients from a handful of recipes, plus took the advice of a server in one local restaurant who suggested I slow cook the pork in cola, which acts as a great meat tenderizer. I am glad I did because it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. This is so easy to make and the only thing I will do different next time is to double the amount of jalapeños and garlic.
Ingredients for the Pork Shoulder Roast
- 5 lb. pork Boston butt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Cumin to taste (I use at least 2 tablespoons)
- 1 sweet onion, quartered
- 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced lengthwise (remember to wear gloves!)
- 3 garlic gloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large seedless orange, juiced, with the peel cut into 4 to 8 slices
- 20 oz. bottle of cola (do not use diet)
- Salt to taste
- Hot sauce to taste
Trim the fat off of the pork roast, cut it into large chunks and sprinkle it liberally with the cumin. Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the pork on all sides. You will want to do this in batches so as not to crowd the meat. Drain the meat on paper towels and place in the slow cooker.
Add the rest of the ingredients except for the salt and hot sauce, and cook on low for 8 hours, until fork-tender. About halfway through the cooking period, taste to see if you need to add salt and/or hot sauce. I needed both, especially the hot sauce.
Let the pork cool, and then strain it from the rest of the ingredients with a slotted spoon and place it in a large bowl. Shred it with two forks – it should come apart quite easily.
Ingredients for the Carnitas Tacos
- Flour tortillas
- Shredded pork roast
- Cilantro, chopped in small pieces, to taste
- Red or sweet onion, diced, to taste
- Lime juice, freshly squeezed (I use ¼ lime per taco)
- Hot sauce, to taste
Warm the tortilla in a skillet or microwave according to the directions on the package. Place desired amount of pork on the tortilla and sprinkle with some of the lime juice and hot sauce Add the onion, cilantro and the rest of the lime juice.
Serve this with a black bean salad and an avocado-tomato salad, or with chips and salsa and guacamole. And don’t forget the margarita!
Eat, drink and be merry!