Thursday, April 30, 2015

Orange & Milk Braised Pork Carnitas – Apparently for Cinco de Mayo

It must have been the subliminal beer and liquor advertising that got me, because I wasn’t even thinking about Cinco de Mayo when I decided to film this milk-braised pork carnitas recipe. 

It’s pretty hard to make a bad batch of oven-fried pork chunks, no matter what method you use, but the milk braising beforehand seems to give the meat a little extra succulence.

The subtle sweetness from the orange is also very nice, but I wanted more, so upped the amount below. As I mentioned in the video, you always want to use these ingredient amounts, and not necessarily what you see in the video. Especially when I’m trying something for the first time, I’ll go kind of light on the ingredients and then adjust here if I think it needs little more or less of something.

By the way, proper carnitas are much “richer,” and by that I mean much fattier. The chunks of meat are crisped in a caldron of pork fat, and copious amounts of this insanely delicious stuff sticks to the meat as it’s chopped or smashed. So, feel free to use more than I did during the oven step, and enjoy something even more flavorful.

You’ll probably use these for tacos, but rumor has it, if you smash them up, and mix in some of your favorite barbecue sauce, they make incredible pulled pork style sandwich.  And don’t even get me started on how amazing these are fried up with some eggs in the morning. I hope you give this carnitas recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions Orange & Milk Braised Pork Carnitas:
3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2  cup freshly squeezed orange juice
zest peeled from 1 large orange
2 cups whole milk

Note: You can strain and reduce the cooking liquid if you want, and do "wet" tacos by adding some of the juice to chopped meat.

26 comments:

Connor O'Brien said...

I'm in college, so I'm working with a crappy set of non-stick pots and pans... Would the simmering process work about the same in a crock pot on high?

Henrik Hansen said...

Nice... A "Must try this at home"-dish... What kind of milk do you use and how much? Thanks...

His said...

Chef John,

You give me reason to continue cooking! I am a wife and mom of a toddler and cooking can get quite boring and gruesome but your videos have brought life to my kitchen! Thanks from me and my husband! And my little one!

Cassandre

Travis said...

Where did you get your tortillas? You mentioned they are corn but they look amazing. Soft and flexible, but they also look like they have some substance to them, not like the cheap kind one buys at the store. Do enlighten me please!

Danger said...

Hi Chef,

Do you think you could do an all day simmer, or even in a crock pot on low for a work-day for the first part (to make the meat more tender and get the flavors more into the meat)? Or do you think that would make it fall apart as you warned against?

Jt Message said...

BTW, was this recipe inspired by the carnitas they have at Nopalito?

George C said...

I believe you missed the milk quantity. I actually have your old recipe planned for May 5th. Well done and cheers !

Chef John said...

Yes Nopalito was one of the spots that inspired this!

Chef John said...

Those asking about a crock pot... I'd have to test, but it could work, although I would think it may get over-cooked. Why not stew in the evening, and then crisp up the next day?

Cory Schwartz said...

Chef John,
For someone allergic to milk would substatuting maybe an orange beer be good?
My mouth is watering just thinking about it��

genuwineu2 said...

Great recipe and so easy to follow.

Thank you.

Unknown said...

Looks great! Would this work in a pressure cooker?

James French said...

My wife and I have a favorite Mexican joint that makes proper Carnitas like this (Many of them sell "carnitas", but it is just crock-pot pork). I always wondered how they managed to get the pulled pork consistency with the crispy exterior. I made these for my wife and I tonight, and they were fantastic. The trick is making sure that you pull them out of the braise before they fall apart. Thank you so much Chef John for all of your hard work. You are a class act and the best internet chef out there.

Jorge Alonzo said...

Just tried this method this evening Chef John and they came out great!! Thanks for posting it. For those asking about a slow cooker, I've tried that quite a few times and while the results taste good they don't have the crispy exterior and moist interior that this method has. They have more of a Mexican flavored wet pulled pork taste rather than the more authentic method here.

James said...

I made these on Monday night. Holy hell they were amazing ! Thank you, Chef John !

David Pier said...

These look great Chef John. You mention in the video using the older, sour milk. Do you think using buttermilk would work well, or would it be too strongly flavored?

Chef John said...

i was actually joking about not wanting to use good milk, just because the date was past. I don't recommend with sour milk. Not sure about BM.

Cory Schwartz said...

Chef John,

How about using beer instead of milk?

Chef John said...

Any liquid will work, but no idea about the taste!

David McCutcheon said...

Did this recipe for the first time for a party of 8 and was a little nervous. It came out perfectly. Your recipe and instruction made the guest think I was a chef. Love your videos!

Samuel Mandell said...

I've been making a lot of your recipes and they are great... but this one was exceptional. We invited our neighbors over and between the four of us consumed like 15 tacos filled with the meat. It turned out SO WELL. Since there is no good Mexican food here in Missoula, this recipe was just perfect.

Thanks for all you do.

Kathleen Uttinger said...

Chef John! I know the fat content isn't the same, but could I almost fake this with a pork sirloin roast cut into chunks?

my_awakening said...

Hello, was wondering if I could use pork collar instead of pork shoulder?

Josh said...

Combined leftovers from this recipe with your flautas recipe.... Dude, amazing!!!

Joey said...

In your Crispy Carnitas video, you used Cinnamon as a spice and I'm wondering why you didn't add that as well to the orange and milk ones? Cinnamon on pork seems deliciously interesting, but so does the use of the milk- can they be combined?

Mary said...

Trying this tonight, Chef. I stole a piece out of the cooking liquid and loved it! Actually, I was hard-pressed not to go ahead and pull it out and start eating right away, but I think that crunchy outside will be even better! I was surprised how much of the fat dissolved in the cooking liquid, but I still think I'm going to do some doctoring on it to get rid of some of the larger chunks of fat. Can't wait to eat it - thanks again!