Taco Night: Carnitas with Avocado Salad

Without fail, I will order a carnitas burrito bowl every time I set foot into a Chipotle (which isn’t exactly often, I swear). Sometimes I think “today I’ll try the chicken,” but I never do. I knew that carnitas meant pork, but actually had no idea how to prepare my own. A quick search on Google revealed that there’s not a whole lot to it – you just need to have a few hours on your hands.
Traditionally, carnitas are nothing more than pork cooked in water and seasoned with salt. That’s it, three ingredients, two of which you almost certainly have in your kitchen at all times. To jazz mine up, I added some citrus flavors and a little bit of cumin.
And since it’s been a few weeks without “taco night” I served these up with all our favorite taco toppings. The avocado salad was the result of wanting both guacamole and beans as side dishes, but not wanting to have a lot of softer, mushier food – so I kept the avocados diced and they were perfection.
I have to say, Nick still likes tacos a lot more than I do, but I’m starting to enjoy the challenge of coming up with as many taco recipes as I can – stay tuned for the next one, inevitably in the next two or so weeks!
Carnitas Tacos with Avocado Salad
  • 3 pounds pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 lemon, juice & zest
  • 3 limes, juice & zest, divided
  • water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

And you’ll need some taco fixings too… here’s what I used:

  • sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salsa verde
  • black beans (I cooked mine with the remaining red onion)
  • corn tortillas (heated in the oven for 7 minutes at 350 degrees)

Place the pork evenly in a Dutch oven. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon and 2 limes. Season with the salt and cumin evenly. Pour water over the pork until it is just barely covered and bring the liquid up to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce to simmer and let it go for two hours. Adjust the flame if necessary, but resist the urge and don’t touch the meat. After the two hours, turn up the heat and reduce the rest of the water until only rendered pork fat remains in the pan. Turn the meat as needed to brown on all sides. This should take anywhere from 30-45 minutes and the meat will be very tender when it’s done. Pull the pork apart using 2 forks.

To make the salad, combine the diced avocado with the diced onion and the juice from the last lime with a little salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well, but don’t let the avocados get mushy. Serve the carnitas and avocado salad with your favorite taco toppings.


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