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Carnitas with Pickled Red Onions (Fast & Slow)
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. For our version, we cook cubes of pork shoulder with spices, aromatics and a little water until the meat is fork-tender. We then break the pork into smaller pieces and moisten it with its own juices. You can stop there and serve the pork as is or you can crisp it in a hot skillet in its own rendered fat. To do so, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 teaspoon of the reserved pork fat until barely smoking. Add the pork in an even layer and cook without stirring, pressing the meat against the skillet with a spatula, until the bottom is browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve carnitas with rice and beans or make tacos with warmed tortillas. Either way, pickled red onions are a must—their sharp acidity balances the rich pork.
tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
01On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select More/High Sauté. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pork, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Stir, then distribute in an even layer.
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