Carnitas literally translates to “little meats” and originates from the state of Michoacán, Mexico. This a traditional way of preparing pork butt (aka Boston butt or pork shoulder) by slow cooking, then pan frying or broiling to create crispy bits. The recipe is extremely versatile and can be used for meat to top salads, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas, or to be enjoyed with brown or white rice in a burrito bowl. It’s also a bonus that pork butt/pork shoulder not only delicious but is very inexpensive! Carnitas is great for large crowds or make-ahead meals as the pork will remain incredibly succulent after freezing and defrosting.
“Butt” isn’t what you may think. The cut actually comes from the front shoulder of the pig, not the business end! In pre-revolutionary Boston, butchers would put various cuts of pork into wooden barrels for transport to Europe and beyond. These barrels are called “Butts”. I’m shocked that the slick marketers in the pork industry haven’t tried to change the name.
If you prefer chicken over pork, the result will be equally delicious. A chicken version of the recipe is included in the link below: