As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received two complimentary jars of Pace Picante Sauce for me to experiment in the kitchen. And as soon as they arrived, I knew exactly which recipe I wanted to try: carnitas. Carnitas mean "little meats" in Spanish and is traditionally made with beautifully marbled and muscled cuts of pork, which are tenderized over hours of low heat into sublime perfection. This is slow-food at its best.
The traditional recipe for carnitas calls for simmering meat in pork fat, which is absolutely divine! However given the push for healthier alternatives, salsa can be used in place of pork fat. This is a simple recipe that can be made in a crock pot or simmered in a pot on the stove top over a few hours. At minimum, this recipe requires only a 2-3 pound slab of boneless pork shoulder roast, and a jar of salsa. If you want to jazz up the sauce, you can add your favorite spices to give an additional layers of flavors. My favorite recipe for carnitas has several recommended spices you may consider adding, such as cinnamon, cumin, ancho chiles and bay leaves, which makes the sauce even more delicious!
- 2-3 lbs pork boneless shoulder
- 2 cups salsa, I used Pace Picante
- 2 cups water (omit if using slow-cooker)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin seeds (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeeds (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ancho (or smoked) chile powder (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
- Place the pork shoulder fat side up in a pot, preferably enameled cast iron. Add all of the ingredients to a large pot. Bring to a boil before lowering the heat to a gentle simmer for 2-3 hours. Flip over the meat each hour. Using a tong, move the meat cuts a few times to keep pork from sticking to bottom of pan. Do not cover the pot. The meat is ready when it begins to flake when picked by a fork.
- You may serve the carnitas cubed or shredded. If you decide to slice the meat into cubes, the pieces should measure roughly 1/2 inch per side. To shred the braised pork, using a fork hold down a cut of meat on a plate, and using another fork pull it across the meat in the opposite direction. The meat should fall apart effortlessly.
- soft corn tortillas
- salsa or guacamole
- 1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- cheese shredded (optional)
Seven Spice Carnitas recipe
Corn Tortilla recipe