Weeknight Pork Carnitas

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Nov 30, -0001 12:00 AM
Tuesday May 24, 2011

Mexican pork carnitas are traditionally made with a slowly braised pork roast. The fatty, but wonderfully tasty, pork roasts are heavily seasoned with herbs and spices and the slow cooking breaks down the meat so it becomes very tender. My adaptation for a weeknight version of pork carnitas uses leftover grilled pork tenderloin. While pork tenderloin is very lean, it is also quite tender, so it works very well in this recipe. Since it's already cooked through, all it takes to get to the final product is to cut the pork into small cubes, season well with spices, and saute over a high heat with onions and pepper. Served the traditional way in warm flour tortillas with chopped cilantro, homemade fire roasted salsa, some grated pepper jack cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime - and you'll think you're in Mexico in the middle of a busy work week. Here's how I put these carnitas together.

Pork (Tenderloin) Carnitas
1 cooked pork tenderloin, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
Chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, garlic powder, oregano, black pepper (about 1 tbsp total)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced fine
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Chopped cilantro
Juice and zest of half a lime

Heat oil in a large skillet (cast iron would work great here) over a medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until they soften. Add the jalapeno and the diced pork and toss with the vegetables in the oil and begin to brown the meat. Once the meat begins to pick up some colour add a few good shakes of the spices (or use about a tablespoon of southwestern seasoning). Toss or stir the pork and vegetables well so that the mixture is well coated with the seasoning. Continue to cook until the onion and peppers have caramelized and the pork has browned. At the end add the lime juice, zest, cilantro and season with a little salt to taste.

While the pork and vegetables are cooking, prepare the toppings and warm your tortillas. I like to assemble mine by laying down a warm flour tortilla, spooning on some of the pork and vegetable mixture, followed by some grated pepper jack cheese, salsa, chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime and some good Mexican hot sauce.

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About Me...The Wicked Newfoundlander
I'm originally from Newfoundland, Canada, and very proud of it! I moved to upstate New York in 2007, and I spend much of my time working and playing throughout New England. Besides my wife, our dog and hockey, I'm passionate about food. I love to cook and create great tasting food. I also love tasting and critiquing food, and comparing regional cuisine (notably Newfoundland and New England dishes).