First things first: Translated as “little meats”, carnitas were traditionally made from the leftover bits of meat from hog butchering that weren’t used in the making of chicharrónes. But, I’m not butchering any hogs here, so when we got a 2 ½ pound, bone-in, pork butt I decided to use it for carnitas.
A caveat before we get started: This recipe calls for lard, but if you don’t have any on hand, then shortening will probably do in a pinch. Please don’t tell me how unhealthy lard is. In fact, it has a better nutritional profile than shortening or margarine. As with all things, the proper source and the proper balance is more important that the actual ingredient so check your concern trolling at the door.
Here’s what you’ll need:
4 Garlic Cloves, grated
1 Tbsp. New Mexican Red Chile Powder
2 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black Pepper
2 ½ Lbs. Pork Butt or Shoulder
¼ Cup Lard
¼ Cup Milk
Debone and cut the pork into bite-size cubes, eliminating chunks of surface fat. Make a stock out of the bone and fatty chunks and make your dog’s life complete.
Using a mortar and pestle (don’t tell me you don’t have one—I’ve given you plenty of cause to get this), mash together the garlic and spices until a paste forms.
Toss in a bowl with the pork and let stand for about 30 minutes.
Warm the lard in a large pot over medium-high heat. Spoon the pork into the hot lard, being careful to watch for hot splatters, and sear the meat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
Uncover the pot, stir in the milk, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally to scrape up the crispy bits on the bottom. After 10-15 minutes the pork will be browned and slightly crispy while tender and juicy inside.
Remove the carnitas with a slotted spoon and serve. Typically, carnitas are served either on their own or rolled into tortillas. Red chile is the sauce of choice, and you can either serve the carnitas in a bowl with red chile, on their own with the red chile on the side, or you can smother the red chile over the tortilla if serving that way. This is real New Mexican food—none of that shitty Tex Mex garbage.