This Labor Day, we vow to do little labor, even when it comes to the backyard party we’re hosting. We chose carnitas as the main protein because we can make it well ahead of time, keeping our hands free, ready for a glass of Purple Cowboy!
The traditional way to make carnitas is to take chunks of pork shoulder and simmer them in lard (aka. manteca) until they are achingly tender and sinfully rich and delicious. For those who do not want to go down this decadent path, here is an alternate version—just as yummy but a little more healthy-ish.
3 1/2 lb to 4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into two inch chunks.
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
Juice and zest from 2 oranges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
- Heat oven to 275 degrees.
- Season pork with cinnamon, cloves, orange zest and black pepper & salt.
- Lay seasoned pork in single layer in a 13 x 9 baking dish.
- Add water, orange juice and bay leaves. Cover with foil and bake for two hours, or until fork tender.
- Remove pan from oven. Remove foil from pan. Raise oven temp to 450 degrees. Return pan to the oven and roast until all liquid is evaporated and meat begins to brown, about 45 minutes.
- Continue roasting, turning frequently, until meat is brown and crispy, about 30 additional minutes.
- Serve with warmed corn tortillas and your choice of green and red salsas.
- Other accoutrements: chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, Mexican crema or sour cream, hot sauce, radishes, pickled jalapeňos.