Carnitas made in an instant pot – that taste of slow braised, flavorful pork on the table in a couple of hours! It truly is possible.
I’m an expert procrastinator, this is so typical of me – this recipe was ready to go last week in time for Cinco de Mayo but I didn’t get my act in time. Oh well. Well friends, as fate would have it, this carnitas recipe is perfect for procrastinators like me. Using an Instant Pot, you can have perfectly tender carnitas in about an hour.
When I was in elementary school, I used to make excuses to visit Janelle’s house on the weekends. Her mom would make killer carnitas, and I remembered that it was an all day affair. The meat would be braised for hours then a final fry in lard (yikes). What came to the table was this impossibly tender, flavorful braised pork, with those delectable fried crispy bits. Ridiculously good!!!
Although we won’t be frying things in lard, these carnitas are just as flavorful.
Onions and garlic for your aromatics. Peeled orange zest and orange juice for sweetness. An assortment of spices. This can’t go wrong.
30 minutes of actual cooking time and 30 minutes to release the pressure. That’s it. Seriously.
Once you finish cooking, you can get your crispy bits via pan frying or broiling in the oven. The choice is yours.
If you are following Whole 30, you can take your carnitas and fixins and make lettuce wraps. If you’re still hankering for tacos, make these cassava flour tortillas. They make the perfect vehicle for these carnitas.
INSTANT POT CARNITAS (paleo, whole 30)
Paleo: Serve carnitas with the cassava flour tortillas
Whole 30: Serve carnitas in lettuce wraps
Omnivore: The cassava flour tortillas could satisfy even your most gluten-obsessed family member. If not, you can serve with warmed corn tortillas.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 generous servings 1x
4 lb boneless pork shoulder
1 med yellow onion sliced thinly
6 garlic cloves
1 orange, juice (approx 1/2 c) & zest (peeled in strips w vegetable peeler)
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp kosher salt
COOKING THE CARNITAS
cut pork shoulder into 2 inch pieces, discarding any pieces that are pure fat. place into the pot.
layer remaining ingredients into the pot, starting with the salt, then the onions and garlic, then spices and salt, and finally the orange juice and zest.
Secure lid, set valve to “sealing”, select setting to “manual” and set cooking time to 30 minutes on high.
After the above 30 minute cooking time is completed, let the pressure release naturally for another 30 minutes (i.e. don’t do anything for 30 minutes).
If the pressure has not completely released by this time, go ahead an manually vent. Carefully turn the release valve and wait until pressure is released.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop out contents into a large bowl. Discard bay leaves and orange peel. The orange peel may get too soft to remove. Don’t sweat it – it is perfectly edible.
Using two forks, shred the pork to your desired consistency.
In a separate bowl, reserve the juice accumulating at the bottom of the pot.
CRISPING THE CARNITAS
Oven method: Preheat oven to “broil”. Divide shredded pork on two baking sheets and place under broiler for 4 minutes, until the pork starts to brown. Remove from oven, add a couple of spoons of the reserved carnitas juices, and return to the oven to broil for a 2-3 more minutes. Remove and serve immediately.
Stovetop method: Place shredded pork in a large dry pan over med-high heat (you will be doing this in 3-4 batches). resist the urge to move the contents around. let the pork crisp up on the bottom, which will take 3-4 minutes. Stir, and add a spoon or two of the juices. Cook for a 2-3 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
tortillas (alternatively try bibb or butter lettuce or cassava flour tortillas ), salsa, avocado or guacamole, radishes, onions or scallions, jalapeno slices, cilantro, limes or oranges.
Aside from the orange juice, there is no additional braising liquid added. Resist the urge to add additional liquid! The meat will release a ton of juices during the cooking process.
Crisp only the amount of carnitas you plan on serving. Over crisping can dry out the meat.
This dish is a fantastic dish to make in advance. You can do the warming/crisping right before serving.