The Simplest Pork Carnitas

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This spring has had some really lovely warm days. Whenever the season begins to beckon me to the great outdoors, I start to crave simple, fresh foods that won’t require me to stand in front of a hot oven. That means tacos make a frequent appearance on our dinner menu. And my personal favorite? Pork carnitas!

I made pork carnitas for the first time in college for Cinco de Mayo, and never looked back. I got the recipe from somewhere on Pinterest years ago, and now with my Instantpot, they take almost no time at all. This year, I made pork carnitas with Madhava’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and according to my husband, they were possibly the best batch I’ve ever made!

Keep it simple.

What I love about tacos is that they can be incredibly simple to put together, and it’s easy to incorporate plenty of bright flavors. I’m a personal fan of fresh cilantro and red onions, but really the possibilities are endless. So when it came to changing up the olive oil I used, I was so happy to find an olive oil that’s so pure.

Madhava (sounds like, ‘Mod-hov-ah’)

Madhava is a company based in Colorado. They’ve been around for over 45 years providing the world with high-quality organic products, and they’ve decided that honoring the purity of products like honey or olive oil with a simple approach is the best way to go. 

Madhava’s olive oil comes from a single source in Tunisia and is packed by a 5th generation olive oil master. I’m no expert, but something about 5 generations of experience in  olive oil testing and tasting tells me they know exactly what they’re doing.

The flavor is light, and versatile enough to use uncooked in a simple dressing. Or in my case, to release the flavors of the garlic and onions before the pressure cooking begins!


How sweet.

Recently, I’ve fallen in love with Mezcal, so I paired our garlicky carnitas with a smoky and sweet strawberry mezcal cocktail. I used Madhava’s Organic Light Agave which has a low glycemic index to make a strawberry simple syrup and I’m kind of obsessed.

I love a good fruity drink IF the fruit is real, and reducing frozen strawberries into a syrup with the agave nectar makes it so easy to have the best of both sweetness and flavor without tasting like lip balm.

I’ll even add a dash of Madhava’s organic honey to round out the flavor and I’m pretty sure I’ve created the ultimate cocktail to enjoy all summer. It’s such a versatile recipe that I might even experiment with a Pomelo or grapefruit flavor. Stay tuned!


How about a dash of heavy metal?

I had no idea that food companies weren’t required to label the contaminants that are in their products. That is to say, since they’re not technically ingredients, so if a little bit of insecticide makes it into your olive oil or Agave, you may never know. Yikes, right?

Luckily, when it comes to Madhava, you won’t have to worry. 

Madhava works with The Clean Label Project, an independent organization that checks for over 130 contaminants before their bottles hit your grocery store shelf. And the best part? It doesn’t cost any more than your average organic olive oil or sweetener!

Simply Better.

I found my Madhava on Amazon, but you can find it everywhere from Walmart to Whole Foods. Even though I made my first batch in college, my carnitas will be a recipe that continues to make its way to our family’s table time and time again. And now that I’ve found Madhava, a simple switch has made them *that much* better.

I hope you get a chance to try out this recipe. Once you’ve made them, they’re so easy to whip together for a great dish you can feel good about eating. Enjoy!


Pork Carnitas Recipe 

Time: Stovetop – 2 hours | InstantPot – 1 hour on high/10 hours on low. | Crock Pot – 4-8 hours

  • 3lbs pork loin
  • 3 large oranges – juiced
  • 2 tbsp cup Madhava Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small white onion – diced
  • 1 medium red onion – diced
  • 1 bunch of Cilantro – diced
  • 1 head of garlic – smashed or whole
  • 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 16 small corn tortillas

Instructions 

First, dry the pork loin and trim any excess fat. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Next, in a large dutch oven heat the pot on medium heat (or in the InstantPot on Sauté) for one minute then add the oil (do not add it while the pot is heating! olive oils have a low smoke point and if you heat them too long it will start to burn.) Then once you’ve added your oil, wait about 30 seconds, and then add your onions.

Sauté the onions until translucent (about 2 minutes) stirring frequently. Remove the onions and set them aside. Add your pork loin to the pot. Sear the top and bottom of the pork loin until it begins to get a light brown crust on at least 2 sides.

(If using a crock pot, begin adding your ingredients to it now) 

Next, re-add the sautéed onions to the pot and carefully add enough water to the pot to just cover the pork loin (watch out for steam and oil splatter!). Add the orange juice and garlic cloves. Yes, all of them (I smash mine to help release the oils but also because I think it’s fun). Incorporate the chicken bouillon. 

Close & cover for time according to cooking device. Note: Stove top/Crock Pot cooking will require occasional stirring and may need water to be added if the seal on your pot lets out water. Instant Pot is highly recommended.

Once your cooking time is up, your meat should be extra tender and incredibly easy to pull apart with tongs or a fork. If not, feel free to re-submerge with a bit more water and orange juice. Some cuts may need more time to tenderize so cover and cook for an additional half hour as-needed.

Warm up your tortillas with a quick toss in a warm pan with a few drops of olive oil and build out your pork carnitas! I garnish mine with red onions, cilantro and extra Cilantro Lime Crema (recipe below). If I have any Cotija in the house, I might sprinkle that on top but they’re just as delicious without it!


Cilantro Lime Crema (Optional but definitely worth it)

  • 8oz Sour Cream
  • 2 small limes – juiced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Cilantro (optional)

Instructions

Add the lime juice to 6oz of sour cream about 2 tsp at a time. Slowly add in pinches of salt to taste. Stir. Taste this every time you add something! Repeat.

The texture should be a bit thinner than regular yogurt (not Greek yogurt!). If it gets too sour or salty, add in more sour cream, and substitute half teaspoons of water to achieve your preferred texture. 

If cilantro doesn’t taste like soap to you, sprinkle in some chopped cilantro. This is best when made ahead so the flavors have time to fully incorporate with each other. Chill until ready to use (at least 1 hour before serving).


Stropo Chicas (Strawberry Mezcal Cocktail)

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Serves 12 cocktails

Instructions

First, make your strawberry simple syrup. Add the Agave, honey, and strawberries to a pot. Cover with water. Simmer while stirring occasionally. Reduce the water until the syrup is slightly thickened. It should be able to coat a metal spoon but not be so thick that it won’t drip off of the spoon. About 20 minutes. Strain the syrup and toss the strawberries.

In a pitcher of ice, add your Mezcal, lime juice, and sparkling water. Add the simple fruit syrup to your preferred sweetness, and garnish with remaining frozen strawberries. Stir. Garnish with a lime if you’re fancy.

Cheers!

This post has been sponsored by Madhava.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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