carnitas (q-view, traditionally cooked)

Discussion in 'Pork' started by dirtyhalos, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. hello all,

    i know this is a smoked meat forum, but i know everyone here appreciates outdoor cooking, so i thought i'd share. i live in southern california and was shown how to make carnitas the tradional mexican way by my grandfather. there are several variations on ingredients but this is how i was shown.

    start with pork shoulder or butt (this is 13lbs of shoulder)


    you then de-bone and cut into cubes about the size of your fist


    you cook with garlic and bay leaves, i use a large tea ball to keep the ingredients from floating in my batch


    carnitas are cooked in a large copper pot to evenly distribute the heat, this pot can handle up to about 35-40 lbs (i purchased it in 2001 for about 125$, not sure what a pot this size would run now). you clean the pot with salt, a little bit if vinegar and lemons, its amazing how well this will make the pot shine.


    this is my setup (some use a rock ring firepit, i like to keep it easier)


    carnitas are cooked in lard, for the 13.5lbs i made i used 10lbs of lard (more than needed, but i like to make sure all my meat is submerged)


    once you get the lard into the pot and at a slow boil you add the meat, notice the tea ball with the bay leaves and garlic... continue to cook the meat with a slow boil


    after about 30 to 45 minutes you add orange juice (some people use coke) with salt mixed in, you then crank up the heat some to get more of a faster boil. the orange juice will give the meat more of a carmelized coating.


    when you think the carnitas are done, cut a piece or two to see how the inside looks, you dont want any pink meat, here are the carnitas right after removed from kettle


    shred or cut the carnitas into small pieces


    served on a plate with tortillas, rice and beans


    or in a taco (the hot sauce is tapatio and is very popular in southern california)


    hope you enjoyed the topic
  2. waysideranch

    waysideranch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Love the carnitas here. Thanks for the pics.
  3. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Carnitas looks great. Thanks for posting the complete instructions
    Great job
  4. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looks great! Thanks for sharing and nice photos too.

  5. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow, I'm impressed with your old school way of making carnitas. Thanks for sharing this tasty treat with us. Points to you my friend.
  6. Love Carnitas.

    When I lived in S. California, the carnitas tasted more like the barbecue I ate growing up in Georgia than any of the alleged barbecue that you could buy.

    At least that was the case until shortly before I moved when a guy from Memphis retired from the air force and opened a pit just a few minutes from me.
  7. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That is nice looking pork. thanks for posting it for us here.
  8. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    yo dirtyhalos, you sure brought back a few memories with your carnitas post.
    I used to live in Riverside, and one of my clients Sal became a good friend/compadre, he was 2nd generation son of a Tulare farm worker, very traditional Mexican family. As a gringo I was lucky enough to get invited to several family functions, i.e. graduations and weddings, Sal and his family really knew how to party, most of those parties last at least 2 days. One thing that always happened in the afternoon was Sal getting out his Caso and starting a fire in the Wood Fire Pit. I am going from memory since the last time we got together was 18 years ago, but I think the copper kettle would turn greenish which is natural for copper when it oxidizes. All the men would stand around, with Lime and rub the kettle insides and before adding the lard, would splash the kettle with beer to get that sizzle and everyone is laughing, drinking and having a great time. Actually I can't rem. how they got the kettle back to the copper color before adding the lard, since I think the lime actually promotes the oxidation, hmm. The food served was very family style mexican food, always great.

    I need to give that dude a call, thanks for the rewind..
  9. this is why i love cooking outdoors, sitting around drinking beers, shooting the breeze and ultimately enjoying some great food... in fact, for labor day we plan on roasting a whole pig, i'll plan on posting how that goes.

    on the kettle, i use mine frequently enough (and store it indoors) that i dont get much of the green, but it definately gets a dirty look to it like the outside (bottom) as shown in my post, i've noticed i get more green if a little bit of water is left in it. but the lemon/vinegar works like a charm on the copper, it almost instantly glows once the lemon juices hit it. the salt is just used as an abrasive to get some scrubbing power.

    i asked my grandpa one time if it'd be faster to use an SOS pad or something similar, he laughed at me and asked me if i'd like my food to taste like an SOS pad... lol

    edit to add: i'm a gringo also, last name smith (as engraved in my kettle), but my mom's family is pure mexican (from chihuahua, mexico)
  10. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey GREAT post and thank you for sharing. There's an old timer around here from Mexico who told me the secret of good carnitas was marinading them overnight in fresh squeezed orange juice and just before frying, in some milk.

    Ever heard of that? I know I've eaten many of his carnitas and they are finger licking good to die for!

    Never made them myself, but I want to. Got to get me a big copper pot first, though.[​IMG]
  11. [​IMG]

    i have not heard of either marinating overnight or the milk... i think im going to try that next time with a couple chunks.
  12. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thats the same with the Lime, they would use some salt and lime, while it was heating up.

    The Whole pig (unfortunately I didn't get to join for this since the pigs were done at his dad's in Tulare). They would dig a pit, throw in briquettes and wood, get the fire going, cover the pig in wet newspapers (my memory could be wrong here), and put the pig in, then throw the dirt on top. I think there is more technique to it than that, since only one side would get done, unless you put hot coals on top too. You could also wrap the pig in alum foil and then put the wet news papers on it. Anyway its the kind of work where the reward afterward is YUM.....
  13. got14u

    got14u Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    awsome post ! brings back alot of memories !
  14. mgwerks

    mgwerks Smoking Fanatic

    Always great to see another way of making carnitas! Both the method and ingredients seem to vary on location.

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