The inspirations for this recipe were numerous variations of Slow Roasts and Carnitas from my cookbooks and the Internet. Unfortunately, none of them was exactly what I was looking for. So after studying them all, I came up with my own version. It turned out to be just what I was looking for– nicely browned tender, juicy flavorful roasted pork that required very little attention during preparation and was made from the cheapest cut of pork. In addition, this is tasty, simple and economical main dish that serves great if you need to feed a large group of guests on low budget.
For my pork roast I used one of the cheapest cuts of pork – like this:
It is called Boneless Shoulder Roast. My piece was slightly over 5 lb.
First, I seasoned it well with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Then I remembered that most recipes for Carnitas called for orange juice and added a glass of fresh orange juice. Then I decided that I would like some spice, and maybe even a little bit of a smoked flavor and added some Sweet Mesquite Seasoning:
The taste of finished meat turned out absolutely perfect. All spices worked well together. However, the taste of pork itself prepared by this method of cooking is so good that I could’ve used just salt and pepper and may be an orange juice.
So after rubbing pork piece with seasoning, I put it into a large plastic zip lock bag and refrigerated for 2 days. It is better to marinate it for 3 days but even one day is good enough. It just happened this way that first time I made this dish I had just one day for marinating and next time I decided to try to marinate it for 3 days. It was slightly tastier after 3 days but we are splitting hair – it is already good enough after 1 day.
It is important to bring meat to room temperature before roasting. It takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the piece. To get a neater shape of the finished roast, you may want to tie the piece of meat with the cooking string before roasting.
Preheat oven to 300 degree Fahrenheit. Place prepared meat on a baking tray lined with foil with fatty side facing up. It is easier to clean and collect meat juices if you use foil. Place tray with meat on a middle shelf in preheated oven.
And this is technically all. Now you can forget about the meat for 5 hours. If your piece is smaller than what I had, 4-4.5 hours might be enough. If it is larger, it may take up to 6 hours. In my case when I checked meat after 5 hours, it did not look browned enough to my liking so I decided to add another half hour. My goal was to get absolutely tender almost falling apart meat. That is, the meat is ready when a large meat fork goes into it very easily.
There are many options how to uses roasted pork. The easiest and most natural way is just serve it right away with potatoes or any other side dish. And don’t forget to pour some pan juices over it – they are SOOO delicious! Or you can cool it down, cut into medium-sized cubes and fry in a skillet until golden and serve with tortillas, salsa and guacamole (Carnitas). It can be cut into pieces, shredded with a fork and used in hot sandwiches with barbecue sauce (Shredded Pork). It also makes great cold cuts for sandwiches. The beauty is there is plenty of pork to try all of the options.
By the way, because the cooking process in spite of being simple is quite lengthy, it makes sense to roast larger piece. If this is too much your family, half can be frozen without any loss of taste.
Oh, and don’t forget - pan juices and fat melted out during roasting are very-very tasty. By all means, you should use it for stewing potatoes or other vegetables, it turns out amazingly delicious.
Photos of the process are here in Russian version of the recipe:
Carnitas are here: