This recipe was featured on the America’s Test Kitchen on PBS, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to try it after the host, Chris Kimball, proclaimed that it is one of their “Top 10 Recipes of All Time.” We love Mexican food, and The Complete Package (my beloved) is a nut for pulled pork. Trying this one was a no-brainer for us. The technique is a little unexpected, but the results are fabulous.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 pork shoulder roast, boneless, 3-4 pounds
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 orange, quartered with seeds removed
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 bay leaves, whole
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
2 cups of water
To serve: flour tortillas, guacamole, minced red onion, cilantro, sour cream
Preheat your oven to 300F. Trim the pork roast to remove most of the fat (leave some on); cut into 2”x2” cubes. Place into an oven safe saucepan or Dutch oven along with the water, onion, orange, the juice from the limes, the bay leaves, salt, pepper, cumin & oregano. Place on the stove over medium-high heat and bring up to a full simmer, stirring occasionally. Place a lid on the saucepan and move it to the middle lower rack of your oven. Bake at 300F for 2-3 hours, or until pork is fork tender (if you poke it with a fork, it easily slides off the fork). Remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Using a slotted spoon, move the pork into a bowl, and strain the liquid, placing it back into the pan for a glaze. Reduce the liquid over medium-high heat until the liquid reduces to about one cup.
Using two forks, pull each chunk of pork into two pieces, placing them back into the bowl. Toss with the reduced glaze to coat all pieces evenly; season with salt & pepper to taste. Place a baking rack onto a rimmed cookie sheet or a baking pan with raised sides (to contain any liquids). Place pork chunks onto the baking rack so that the juices will drip onto the baking sheet, about 1” apart. Put the baking sheet back into the oven on the lower-middle rack and allow to broil for 5-8 minutes, or until the meat starts to crisp on the top. Remove from the oven, flip all pork pieces, and place back in the oven to broil for an additional 5-8 minutes on the second side, or until edges are crisp but not burned.
Remove the meat from the oven. Squeeze some fresh lime juice over the top and give it a sprinkle of salt. Serve with warm flour tortillas, guacamole, minced red onion, cilantro, salsa and sour cream. The result – pulled pork so tender it melts in your mouth, with crispy broiled edges that will make your heart sing. The addition of fresh lime juice and salt at the end really perks it up. Leftover pork (if there is any) would be awesome as a filling for enchiladas, tamales, or burritos. Now go forth and get your carnitas on! Or in Spanish: Ahora ve en la cocina y hacer algo de carnitas para cenar esta noche!