Salsa Verde Carnitas Recipe (aka Mexican Pulled Pork)
Next time you’re ordering a burrito at the counter and see the stainless steel container of shredded meat behind the counter, tip your hat to whatever hands had to pull that meat apart (and hope that they wore gloves, or instead held a coupla forks to do the job).
I had a hankering for making carnitas after a mother of one of the girls I coached would make the dish and bring it to the tournaments. It was tasty, and she was Asian, so I figured whatever flavors she got was surely reproducible.
What is carnitas? According to Wikipedia,
“Carnitas (from the Spanish for “little meats”) is a type of braised or roasted (often after first being boiled) pork in Mexican cuisine.”
I used a salsa verde recipe off of SimplyRecipes.com, and got to work.
You need a large enough pot with a lid (a Dutch oven is best, because it seals in the steam), and a casserole dish. You’ll be boiling and simmering the meat first to get it tender, and then putting it into the casserole dish and tearing it into shreds with some forks.
This is the hardest part, IMHO. For 3.5 lbs of pork, using the sanitary method of dual-fork shredding, my fingers were frickin’ tired from grasping and shredding for a good 30 minutes or so. Fortunately the meat falls easily from the bone. The rest is easy…the recipe is highly accurate and indeed simple.
A couple other tips:
– Salsa verde: If you buy it, 2 cups is a little more than 2 small cans of Herdez Salsa Verde. I just used 2 cans of the stuff and the dish still turned out fine.
– Slicing the cabbage: When they say thinly sliced, they mean it. I have a fear of chopping off the palm of the hand holding the lettuce (yes, I hold it incorrectly). Bigger slices are ok but it makes for less flexible strips within the tortilla.
– Cotija Mexican cheese was hard for us to find, even in ethnically diverse San Francisco grocery stores (though I didn’t have time to go to the Mission). As a quick substitute, some crumbled feta worked out fine.
– Avocados: Just one is not enough. If you live in California, most of your guests will like this and want to pile on more. We had 1 avocado for four people who ate about half of the dish. I’d recommend 3 if you plan on serving the whole thing
– Portion size: Four people with decent appetites, and second helpings, and many small tortilla-less helpings… and about 1/3 – 1/2 of the meat left over. The recipes says it serves 6 but it could easily serve 8.
This was my first time using Simply Recipes and wow, they’re not just a pretty foodie face of a website! Easiness factor was quite high (though the shredding got a bit boring). Taste factor, also quite high. Value, through the roof. Thanks, Simply Recipes!