Pork Two Ways: Carnitas Tacos

The husband and I spent our college years in Southern California, and we frequently find ourselves craving authentic tacos. We’ve identified a few local establishments over the years, but I’ve also discovered it’s fairly easy to make great carnitas (roasted pork) at home. The main ingredient is time, but other than browning the roast in the beginning and then shredding the meat part way through, all the work is done in the oven. (Or on the grill, if you like.) You can also cut the meat into cubes, but I prefer it shredded. If you finish the carnitas the same day you roast the pork, it will keep a couple days in the fridge to make an easy weeknight meal — I had enough to freeze half for another time too.

The boy loves Mexican food, but typically sticks to quesadillas and burritos. He insisted he didn’t like tacos, so I made him a “taco pocket” instead … a.k.a., burrito, with veggies on the side. I suspect I may get him to warm up to tacos if we make fresh, kid-size tortillas, but that’s a project for another day.

Recipe: Pork Carnitas Tacos (& Taco Pockets)

Ingredients:

for tacos:

  • tortillas
  • shredded romaine lettuce
  • thinly sliced red peppers
  • salsa verde
  • sour cream

for “taco pockets” (a.k.a. burritos):

  • tortillas
  • brown rice
  • black beans
  • shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer the roasted pork to a shallow roasting pan. Shred the pork, using two forks, into large segments. Trim excess fat as you shred. Top with the salsa and roast for 1 hour, turning over once. Top should develop a crisp, carmelized crust, while interior remains moist. Remove from oven and serve with warmed tortillas, sour cream, sliced bell peppers, lettuce and any other desired accompaniments.

Kid-Friendly Taco Pockets: For the taco pocket, warm a tortilla in a skillet over medium heat. In the center, layer rice, beans, pork, and cheese. Fold in sides, then ends, to make a rectangle-shaped pocket. Place back in skillet and warm about a minute on each side to melt the cheese. To avoid toddler troubles, I serve the veggies next to it but you could certainly add peppers inside if that’s not an issue in your house.

For more on pork carnitas, read David Lebovitz’s (a fellow Cali ex-pat) tale of serving carnitas in Paris.

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5 Responses to “Pork Two Ways: Carnitas Tacos”

  1. Kid Vs. Produce

    How awesome. I love a great taco, and my kids have always been sort of suspicious of them. I’m going to steal your pocket approach!
    Kid Vs. Produce´s last blog post ..Rainbow Chard My ComLuv Profile

  2. mary

    Do you know a good source for “happy” pork shoulder?

  3. Alexa

    Both ideas are great! I’ll try them for sure, thanks for sharing them with us!
    Alexa´s last blog post ..Timisoara – Old Friend My ComLuv Profile

  4. foodietots
    Twitter:

    @Kid vs. Produce — I don’t know how a little taco could be so offensive, but hope the “pocket” trick works for you!

    @mary — I got this one from Let’s Meat in Del Ray, but surely Smith Meadows or EcoFriendly at Dupont would have them, too.

    @Alexa — thanks!

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    [...] for a quick snack, or to use in a salad or salsa. Mango salsa is definitely in order for our next taco night, and I know my kids would love this Mango Miso Tofu [...]

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