For the pork:
- 3 (5-inch) fresh marjoram sprigs
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered through the root end
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes (do not trim the fat)
For serving (optional):
- Corn or flour tortillas
- Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Lime wedges
- Makes: 8 to 10 servings
Carnitas may seem like a complex Mexican dish to pull off, but really it only takes a little patience to perfect. Just toss a few ingredients into a pot and slow-cook the pork in its own flavorful broth. In a couple of hours, the broth reduces and the pork fries in the fatty juices left behind, resulting in crispy yet tender meat perfect for stuffing into tacos or burritos, or serving atop tostadas. This is a great recipe to make a day ahead as it takes time to reduce the water out of the pork and get to the frying in its juices.
Special Equipment You’ll need cheesecloth and butcher’s twine for this recipe.
- Place the marjoram, garlic, coriander, and bay leaf in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie it tightly with butcher’s twine. Place the bundle in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot along with the onion and salt. Arrange the pork in a single layer and add enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim and discard any foam that floats to the surface using a large spoon. Simmer, skimming the surface and turning the pork pieces occasionally, until the meat is tender and just beginning to shred apart, about 2 1/2 hours. (You may need to adjust the heat to medium low to keep it at a simmer.)
- Remove and discard the herb packet and onion quarters. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the remaining water evaporates and just the rendered fat coats the bottom of the pan. (This could take up to an hour.)Reduce the heat to low and let the meat fry in the fat, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard any large pieces of unrendered fat and serve the carnitas in tacos, burritos, or tostadas with your desired toppings.