Carnitas Tacos! (and Chicken Tacos, too!)

Jay’s weakness is anything pork. Second, only to bacon, would be Mexican applications like Carnitas. This is not something we had any plans on making, especially since we don’t have an oven, but when we ran into the Healthy Food For Living Blog on Pulled Pork Tacos we couldn’t wait to try it. I was sold to the idea by the pictures of the tacos and lime wedges. But Jay was lulled by the fun home-made spice rub and the beer. We didn’t go for the super healthy version made with leaner pork loin. One reason is because we knew we’d be cooking it on a stove top, and it would need all the fat and juices it could get to stay moist. Another reason is because we wanted it to be super tasty, and fat = flavor. Also fattier = less expensive. We opted for corn tortillas, homemade faux-Chipotle Corn Salsa, crema, and lime. Fabulous combination. We just made this a week ago, and we’ve already tried a second version, made with Chicken. Just as moist and tasty, this is a keeper of a recipe.

Carnitas Tacos

For this recipe you will need:

  • 3lb pork shoulder, cut into large 3-4inch chunks
  • 2tsp salt
  • 4tsp ancho chile powder
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 1/2tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1-2T oil
  • 12ounces beer (We used Shock Top to carry on the orange theme)
  • 1/2cup freshly squeezed orange juice (1st time we used clementines bc they were more ripe than our stores oranges)

We think the reason this turned out well is because we used a dutch oven. This pot holds heat very well and evenly. If you don’t have this, you could sear off the meat then try a crockpot or cook it in the oven instead. BUT don’t forget to sear the meat, this is really important to lock in the juices and keep your pork moist.

Prep

  1. Cut up the pork
  2. Combine spices to make a dry rub
  3. Dip pork into dry rub and coat on all sides

One of the best things about our favorite grocery store is that it has a section called healthy living which contains a lot of health foods, but also a bulk section. You can buy tiny pouches of any spice, or buy baking ingredients by weight. For us it works great because we aren’t going to be staying in Texas forever, plus it is really affordable. We probably spent $0.70 on our spice rub and it also helps us stay within the bounds of our tiny home.

Cook

  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add in the seasoned pork pieces, and sear all sides.
  2. Pour in the beer and add in the orange juice, and bring mixture to a boil.
  3. Cook the mixture on the stove top with lid for about 2 hours, then shred the pork. You may need to adjust this cook time depending on the type of pot you are using.

Not sure how to choose a beer?

We weren’t either. The original recipe we used recommends a beer that has citrus notes, and we thought this Shock Top paired really well with the clementines and the pork. It also reduced very well to create a sort of sauce and kept the meat super moist. Our grocery store has an option to create your own 6pack of 12ounce beers. It worked really well for us. We chose Shock Top for the Carnitas, a Vanilla Porter for an Ice Cream experiment, and Jay got an Oatmeal Stout and I got a Pear Cider for drinking. Fun!

Prep

While you are waiting for the pork, you can prep your sides. Feel free to use whatever taco toppings you like, or make burritos, enchiladas, etc. with this delicious pork.

  1. Make Corn Salsa (faux Chipotle Corn Salsa), chop some red onion, 1 jalapeño, and some cilantro mix with fresh or frozen yellow corn. Let flavors meld.
  2. Cut limes into wedges.
  3. Warm tortillas. (We tried microwaving the tortillas and warming them on the George Foreman Grill, but you could also warm them in the oven, on a grill, or in a pan on stove.
  4. Get out crema!
  5. ENJOY!
After the pork has cooked for 2 hours, it should be fork tender, and easy to pull apart, creating a juicy, shredded taco meat.

When we ‘shredded’ the pork, it was REALLY hot, and we ended up with bigger chunks rather than shreds. Don’t worry though, it was still delicous. It was easier to shred the rest after it had cooled slightly. We were also unsure of what to do with the juices left in the bottom. We didn’t really need it to keep the meat moist and though you could see lots of spices laying at the bottom, you could taste all of them throughout the pork.

You can even see in this picture how moist the meat is. YUMMY!

Chicken Tacos (Carnitas Style!)

*Replace the pork in the recipe with Chicken. (Jay broke down a whole chicken when we made this recipe. We only used Chicken breast and saved the drums and thighs for another recipe, but you can use your favorite cut. Heck, try flank or skirt steak with this rub too. It’s sure to be de-lish! Follow the same steps until you get shreddable Chicken for Tacos.

cooking chicken--carnitas style!

For our Chicken Tacos we bought freshly pressed Flour Tortillas from our grocery store and added some avocado slices. It was so delicious!

Thank you to the Healthy Food For Living Blog on Pulled Pork Tacos for this delicious recipe! We will be making it over and over again, and recommending it to everyone we can find! YUM-O!

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