Carnitas, which means “little meats” in Spanish, is the Mexican version of braised pork similar to the pulled pork that we are accustomed to in the US and in Cuba, “ropa vieja.” Traditionally the pork butt or pork shoulder is cooked slowly in lard which renders the pork mouthwatering tender and crisp on the edges. Pork shoulder is a fatty cut of meat that is well suited for slow cooking resulting in tender cubes of meat that are easily shredded.
In an effort to reduce the fat and calories, I substituted Dixie Beer Blackened Vodoo Lager, rather than the lard, to slowly simmer the pork and seasonings. The carnitas can be cooked in an instant pot or a slow cooker. I do not own either of these kitchen appliances, so I resorted to using my favorite and always reliable black cast iron Dutch oven. The aromas that filled my kitchen for hours made it worth the hours of waiting for the pork to be cooked to perfection.
The Dutch oven was the right fit for browning the pork on the stovetop and then transferring directly to the oven with a tight-fitting lid to slowly simmer for hours. The pork shoulder is cut into small cubes and lightly browned in the pot. Then, add seasonings such as cumin, oregano, and citrus, orange and lime, to the pork. Toasted guajillo peppers and lots of garlic are also added to enrich and deepen the flavors.
The Dixie blackened voodoo beer or dark lager of your choice is added before placing everything in the oven for about three hours. Once the pork is finished, the pan juices are reduced to produce a thicker sauce. Some people like to place the pulled pork on a sheet pan and quickly crisp the edges of the pork in the broiler.
Finally, the carnitas are ready to serve. I chose to use corn tortillas to make tacos. You may also enjoy serving the carnitas on tostadas and nachos or in burritos. Garnish with pico de gallo, salsa, tomatillo, avocados and jalapeños or my Sur le Plat guacamole.