Updated: Jun 11, 2019
I feel so lucky to live in a city where tacos are considered standard fare. Here in Texas, we eat them todo el tiempo, not just on Tuesdays. There is a taco out there for every mood, season, celebration, or dietary consideration. I think that a well prepared taco just may be the perfect food: they’re easy to eat, generally simply prepared, and come in all different varieties. This version of the carnitas taco is one of my favorites- tender shredded pork cooked in a spicy, citrusy mojo marinade and then layered into a warm tortilla along with some creamy, tangy salsa and crunchy shredded vegetables—SWEET TACO JESUS! These are delightful. And the great news? I make the pork in the Instant Pot so these tasty tacos can be ready to go in under an hour! I love using the IP for tough cuts of meat like pork shoulder- not only does it cook the meat quickly and evenly, but it also infuses the meat with more flavor than a regular old Dutch oven does. Also, I have found that I can work with meat that is a little leaner in the IP versus a Dutch oven since the pressure cooker really does a number on those tough cuts. I like to trim most of the fat off of my pork for this recipe- the resulting carnitas are tender but not greasy as a result. When I serve these, I pour a little oil into a hot cast iron skillet and brown the shredded meat just to get it a little crispy and to thicken the mojo- otherwise, the juices will run all over your plate. You could alternately do this in a broiler: just line a sheet pan with some foil and broil the meat in an even layer for 3-5 minutes. This dish is an amazing party recipe- it feeds a crowd and everyone will have so much fun assembling their tacos and sippin’ on cervezas. Not entertaining but still want to make this? No problem! I freeze what we don’t eat in portioned out ziplocks so that we can have carnitas tacos anytime we want! Enjoy!
prep time: 20 min. cook time: 45 min. serves: 8-10
3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, most of fat trimmed and cut into 2-1/2” chunks
kosher salt and black pepper
avocado or vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup light beer or chicken stock
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 chipotles en adobo plus 1 tsp sauce
8 garlic cloves, crushed
AVOCADO TOMATILLO SALSA
3/4 lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
1/2 white onion, peeled and cut into large wedges
1 jalapeño, stemmed and quartered (remove seeds for less heat)
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp oregano
1 large ripe avocado
juice of a lime
1-1/2 tsp salt
Corn or flour tortillas, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radish, cilantro, lime wedges, and/or feta cheese
To make the salsa, preheat the broiler and toss the tomatillos, jalapeño, and white onion on a foil lined sheet pan. Broil the vegetables for about 10 minutes, until they are charred at the edges. Allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, add the avocado, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, salt, and oregano to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the tomatillos, onion, and jalapeño in and pulse or blend to combine. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. *The salsa will keep in the fridge for about 36 hours covered with plastic wrap (make sure to lay the wrap directly on top of the salsa or it will brown).
Make the “mojo“ for the carnitas: add the orange juice, lime juice, beer or stock, cumin, oregano, chipotles en adobo plus sauce, garlic, and 1-1/2 tsp salt to the bowl of a blender or food processor and pulse to combine. Pour into a 2 cup measuring cup or a medium bowl and set aside. Set the Instant Pot to sauté function and add 1 tbsp of avocado oil to heat. Season the pork chunks all over with salt and pepper and brown in the hot oil on all sides, working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pot and adding more oil between batches as needed. When the last batch of pork is done browning, hit the “cancel” button and add remaining pork and the mojo sauce back into the pot. Stir everything to combine. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock into place. Set valve in the “sealing” position and program the IP to manually cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes is up, allow the IP to naturally release for at least 15 minutes. Switch the valve to the open position to release any additional pressure and remove the lid. Remove the pork to a large carving board and shred with two forks- it should be very tender. Return the shredded meat to the pot and hit sauté button to slightly thicken the sauce for about 5 minutes.
When ready to make tacos, warm the tortillas on each side in a cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat (about 1 min per side). Stack the tortillas up and wrap in foil to keep warm. To serve the meat, drizzle a little avocado or vegetable oil into the same cast iron or non-stick skillet. Add the desired amount of meat and allow it to crisp in the oil until it begins to slightly brown and the sauce thickens, 3-5 minutes. Make a taco by spooning some of the salsa in the bottom of a tortilla, then top it with a little pork, and finish with cabbage, radish, cilantro, and feta (if using). Squeeze some lime on top and chow down!