Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.
When it comes to tacos there are many types of meats you can fill your tortilla with (and no we’re not talking taco bell style ‘tacos.’) There are meats such as lengua, barbacoa, tripas, asada, and many-many more. I’ll be bringing to you some of these recipes for meat, and the different ways of assembling the tacos over time. Today, the recipe I will share with you is for carnitas! This type of meat has a nice caramelized crust on the outside, but on the inside is very soft and tender – think roast meat tender.
- 2 pounds of pork shoulder (If you’re feeding a big family like I’m used to, you can use about an 8-pound pork shoulder, and cut around the bone to get as much meat off as you can.)
- ½ teaspoon of ground cumin per pound
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic per pound
- ½ teaspoon of onion powder per pound or to taste
- 1 tablespoon of salt per pound or to taste
- ½ teaspoon of paprika per pound or to taste
- ½ teaspoon of Fiesta steak seasoning per pound or to taste
- Lard (enough that when melted, can cover all the meat in a large pot. For me, I cooked around 7-8 pounds of this in two batches and ended up using nearly 4 pounds of lard total.
- 1 large onion chopped
- Red peppers sliced – or whatever pepper you prefer when adding heat
- Red crushed chili flakes
- 1 can of orange Fanta soda
- 1 can of your favorite beer
- 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
- Begin by cutting as much meat as you can away from the bone from the pork shoulder, placing the meat in a large bowl next to you.
- Once you’ve taken as much meat as you can from the bone, cube the meat up into about 3-4 inch pieces. You don’t want them to be cut too big because then it won’t cook evenly, and you don’t want them to be cut too small because they’ll cook too fast and can be easy to overcook.
- Add all your seasonings to the large bowl and mix with your hands until the seasonings are completely mixed and cover the meat. If you’re adding onions, peppers, or chili flakes – toss them in when doing this as well.
- Place in the fridge and let this mixture marinate for at least 4-6 hours (the longer the better.)
- Once you’re done marinating, get out a large pot. You want to make sure it’s a rather big pot that can fit bubbling grease with the meat.
- Take the bowl with meat out and leave it on the countertop so that it can start to slowly creep to room temperature (if you toss it in while super cold, it’ll shock your oil – and can lead to lots of popping.)
- Take your lard, and melt it in the pot on high at first (around 300 degrees F), then bring the heat to medium-high once it’s almost fully melted. (if you opted to add in any beer, soda, or orange juice do it now. I’d HIGHLY recommend only adding one of these things, and not all three!)
- Finally, carefully add in your meat pieces. Continue adding the meat until the surface area of the bottom of the pot is covered. At this point, you can judge if you’re able to add more – but all the meat pieces need to be completely covered by the boiling lard. (if you can’t fit it all, just do more than one batch.)
- You’ll let the meat then boil in the lard for about 15-30 minutes. This will largely depend on how much you’re cooking at once, and how hot your stove is, but what you’re looking for is a deep red color to the meat, and it is really easy to break apart.
- Once the meat is done, scoop it out with a large metal stirring spoon with holes, or grab the pieces out with tongs and place it in a different, clean bowl. If you’ve got more raw pieces of meat, you can freeze them for another time, or rinse and repeat the process.
- Once the meat is cooked to your desired doneness (I like mine crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.) Grab your cutting board and cleaver and begin chopping the meat into tiny little pieces.
- Once all the meat is chopped up, congratulations, you’ve got yourself some taqueria worthy tacos!
First of all, don’t toss the bone! You can use it and what little meat you couldn’t grab off of it to boil for broth the next time you need a quick broth. Also, for the tacos, you’d want to fry some corn tortillas (I just use the lard I cooked the meat with to fry the tortillas.) Make your favorite Pico de Gallo and top with cabbage seasoned with fajita seasoning and with lime juice. It might seem like a lot of work, but as they say, all good things are worth waiting for, and these are dang good! If you need a recipe for a fresh Pico de Gallo we’ve got one waiting for you here.