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Shredded, sauced and crisped—the tender, juicy pork you need for your tacos

Carnitas

4 hours 45 minutes active

Carnitas

Authentic Mexican carnitas involve slow-cooking pork in lard until fall-apart tender, then increasing the heat so the meat fries and crisps. The fried pork then is broken into smaller pieces for eating. In the U.S., however, carnitas usually is made by simmering pork in liquid, then shredding the meat. The result is moist and tender, but lacks intense porkiness as well the crisping traditional to carnitas. Our method melds the two techniques. We cook cubes of pork shoulder in 1 cup each of neutral oil and water, along with spices and aromatics, until the meat is fork-tender. We then break the pork into smaller pieces, moisten it with its own juices, and fry it in a hot skillet. The pork gets to keep its flavor anddevelop crisp bits. If you have a fat separator, it makes quick work of removing the fat from the cooking liquid: pour the liquid into it after removing the pork from the pot, then return the defatted cooking liquid to the pot, but remember to reserve the fat. You can cook, shred and moisten the pork with the reduced cooking liquid up to three days in advance; fry the pork just before serving so it's hot and crisp. And if you like your carnitas extra-crisp, after browning the first side, use the spatula to flip the pork and cook until the second side is well-browned and crisp, another 5 to 7 minutes. You can serve carnitas simply with rice and beans or make tacos with warmed corn tortillas. Either way, pickled red onions are a must—their sharp acidity perfectly balances the richness of the pork. Also offer sliced radishes and salsa, such as our tomatillo-avocado salsa.

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