Naturally low carb, gluten-free, and paleo, these are the best carnitas I have ever tasted. And I didn’t mind testing this recipe over, and over, and over…
Carnitas. Delicious little pieces of braised pork that are somehow both juicy and crisp at the same time. I’ve been working behind the scenes here at All Day I Dream About Food to perfect my own low carb carnitas recipe and I have to say, it’s pretty close to perfect. It’s so good, I actually start to salivate just thinking about it. And we made a huge batch of it to serve to my sister and her family a few days before Christmas. It was a hit with everyone from the 3 year old to the 43 year old. We served it as healthy paleo carnitas bowls, skipping the tortillas in favour of putting it over my Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice. If I had to eat that meal every day for the rest of my life, well I wouldn’t be unhappy about that!
I did a lot of research before venturing out on my own with carnitas. I wanted to stay true to the nature of carnitas by cooking it in lard but good pasture-raised lard is expensive stuff. So I settled on using a 1/4 cup of the good lard and a pork shoulder roast (pork butt) with a good fat cap on it, to get the unctuous juiciness I was looking for. (And once, when I couldn’t get my hands on any good lard, I used duck fat in its place. Worked perfectly!). In my research, I came across a lot of crock pot and slow cooker carnitas recipes, but I wanted to brown my meat a bit for maximum flavour, so I settled for the more traditional dutch oven. This really didn’t take any more effort than a slow cooker would, as I could brown the pork and braise it all in the same pot.
Many recipes had you cutting the meat into chunks before cooking. So much added work and really unnecessary, in my opinion. Cooking a whole roast at low heat for a long time with plenty of liquid results in such succulent tenderness, it practically falls apart as you touch it. Other recipes I came across also discarded all the wonderful juices after the pork was cooked, and I simply couldn’t bear to do that. I reduced the juices while the shredded pork was broiling, to make a thick, juicy sauce.
There are a zillion carnitas recipes out there and I am sure many of them are very good. Great, even. But this is my take on it and I have to say, I think it’s some of the best carnitas I’ve ever tasted. I hope you think so too.
Easy Slow Roasted Carnitas
Naturally low carb and gluten-free, these are the best carnitas I have ever tasted. And I didn't mind testing this recipe over, and over, and over...
- 4lb boneless pork butt (the fattier the better!)
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup pure lard or duck fat (or even bacon grease)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 orange, cut into quarters
- 1 lime, cut into quarters
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 300F. Season pork butt all over with salt and pepper.
- In a large dutch oven, melt lard or duck fat over medium heat. Once hot, add pork roast and brown well on all sides.
- Add water to the bottom of the pan. Hand squeeze the juice of the orange sections and lime sections into the pan and add the rind as well. Add cumin, oregano, chipotle, and garlic. Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer the pot to the oven.
- Let cook 5 hours, until pork is tender and can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove from the liquids onto a foil lined cookie sheet and let stand until cook enough to shred with your hands (some bigger pieces are okay).
- Spread pork out over cookie sheet and set under the broiler for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to get pork pieces nice and crisp.
- Meanwhile, remove orange and lime rinds from the liquids in the pot. Set over medium high heat and bring a boil. Cook until liquids are reduced by half. Add crispy pork back into the liquids and toss to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
- Serve over cauliflower rice and top with your favourite fixings like cheese, guacamole, and cilantro.
Serves 8 to 10*. For 8 servings, each serving has 1.97 g NET CARBS.
*It can be more servings than this easily, if you pair it with cauli rice, guacamole, cheese, etc. A half serving with all the trimmings was quite enough for me.
Food energy: 672kcal Total fat: 43.92g Calories from fat: 395 Cholesterol: 225mg Carbohydrate: 2.57g Total dietary fiber: 0.60g Protein: 57.12g