Many find carnitas a little dry or flavorless. These Pork Carnitas have a great, distinctive flavor and are requested by friends and family over and over.
5 lbs. pork shoulder
2 tablespoons vegetable or other neutral cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon chile de arbol (or ancho chile powder)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
5 cloves garlic, minced
cut the meat into 4-5″ chunks, removing any excess fat. season all sides of the chunks well with sea salt. david’s recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of sea salt but i’m pretty sure i used more.
in a large dutch oven or pot, heat the oil and cook the meant until very well browned on all sides. you will probably have to do this in batches. once they are brown, remove them from the pot and blot on paper towel.
preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
once all the meat is browned and all removed from the pot, add 2 cups of water and scrape the bottom of the pot to release all the brown bits. add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, garlic, chile powders and cumin. mix so it’s well combined and then add the meat back in. add more water until the meat is about 2/3 covered.
braise in the oven, uncovered, for 3 1/2 hours. turn the pork a few times during braising. much of the liquid will evaporate and the pork will be oh-so-amazingly falling apart tender.
remove the pot from the oven and transfer the meat to a platter.
strain the liquid into a bowl. reserve any meaty bits and discard any other solids. the fat will rise to the top. skim off as much as possible.
when the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it up and put it back in the pot. add the liquid and return the pot back to the oven. cook until much of the liquid evaporates and the outer edges of the pork becomes caramelized and crispy. the time will depend on how much liquid you have left and how crispy and crackly you want it. just keep an eye on it.