Perfect Pork Carnitas + Carnitas Brown Rice and Kale Burrito Bowls

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My friend Jane taught me how to make carnitas when we were all fresh out of college, living in New York. We were all so, so broke, so instead of going out to dinner together, our group of girlfriends would meet up at one of our apartments to make nachos. We would, hilariously, show up with one ingredient each – a can of black beans, an avocado, some tomatoes, etc.

Usually we had vegetarian nachos, but when we were feeling fancy (have I mentioned pork butt is only about $2/pound) we’d make Jane’s Carnitas.

As happens with recipes, I’ve since adapted this recipe and made it my own, but I still think of those nacho nights every time I make carnitas.

My version is beyond simple – throw a bunch of meat into a Dutch oven or a big skillet, cover with citrus juices, and bake until tender. Some carnitas recipes take all day long, but I cube the meat up into small chunks to help it cook faster and cook the meat at 350°F instead of 250°F like some carnitas recipes. I’ve done it both ways, and I swear mine is even better than the longer, slower cooks.

There are so many things you can do with carnitas:

  • Tacos
  • Burrito bowls (pictured below)
  • Taco salad
  • Huevos rancheros with carnitas mixed in (DELISH)
  • Nachos!

I hope you’ll make these ASAP!

Perfect Pork Carnitas

Servings 6 to 8 people

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup orange juice 
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 350°F. Add pork to a large Dutch oven or 12-inch cast iron skillet and season with salt all over. Add orange juice, lime juice, bay leaf, and garlic to the skillet, cover with the lid or tightly with foil, and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until meat easily shreds when prodded with a fork.
  • Uncover the Dutch oven and cook until the liquid has completely evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes. If, after 30 minutes, all of the liquid has not evaporated, go ahead and transfer the skillet to the stovetop, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook until all liquid evaporates. Then proceed.
  • Transfer the Dutch oven to the stovetop and turn the heat to medium-high. Break the meat into large pieces and sear all over until it is crispy. Don’t stir too hard, we want big pieces of meat, not for it to be totally shredded.
  • Serve as desired.
  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup orange juice 
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed

Carnitas Brown Rice and Kale Burrito Bowls

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Creamy Garlic-Lime Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Carnitas Bowls:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, ribs removed, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 to 3 cooked carnitas
  • 1 large avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  • To make the creamy garlic-lime sauce, stir together all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add kale and a big pinch of salt and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the brown rice until warmed through.
  • Divide the brown rice between 4 bowls. Top with carnitas, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, radishes, a lime wedge, and any other desired toppings.

Creamy Garlic-Lime Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Carnitas Bowls:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, ribs removed, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 to 3 cooked carnitas
  • 1 large avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges
Author: Caroline Chambers

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