3 Best Pork For Carnitas: What Cuts Of Pork Make The Best Carnitas?
If you are in the mood for Mexican food, making carnitas is an easy way to go.
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There are different cuts of pork that can go well in a carnitas recipe.
In this article, we are going to delve into these cuts and figure out why they are good choices for this Mexican delicacy.
How to choose pork for carnitas?
Pork is the main ingredient in carnitas, therefore, the key to having a delicious dish is a good cut of pork.
So how to choose pork for carnitas so that your dish will satisfy even the pickiest eater?
Let’s take a look at the following tips:
1. Buy fresh organic pork
The first thing to keep in mind when shopping for a pork cut to make pork carnitas is to buy a fresh cut.
Fresh meat results in a firmer texture and sweeter taste.
It is even better if you can buy organic pork which is superior to regular pork because the pig has been raised without antibiotics, hormones, and fed with a healthy diet.
Organic pork is often a little pricier than factory-raised pork, but the quality is worth the price.
It can be found in certain local butcher shops, supermarkets, or any organic meat stores.
2. Choose a tough cut with some marbling fat
Another tip to choose pork for carnitas is buying a tough cut of pork so that it will become very tender after being slow-cooked.
A cut with a tough texture can be found in the section that the pig uses the most for work.
It often comes with good marbling fat content, making it more flavorful than other cuts.
3. Don’t forget to buy some pork lard to cook with your pork cut in a carnitas recipe
In a carnitas recipe, pork is typically simmered with a kind of fat, preferably pork lard, to add a richer taste and keep the meat moist during cooking.
Therefore, it is best if you can make friends with a local butcher so that he or she can save the freshest cut of pork with some pork fat to make lard for you.
You can save some money by buying both the meat and fat from one place.
3 best pork cuts for carnitas
Now you know some tips for having the best pork for your next batch of pulled pork or carnitas.
But what to buy when shopping for this meat ingredient?
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Here are some of the most common cuts that are perfect for a carnitas recipe:
1. Pork shoulder
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Pork shoulder is the top choice for making carnitas.
It is often confused with the pork butt.
Although both come from the shoulder of the pig, the pork shoulder cut is actually way down to the foreleg, while the pork butt (or known as Boston butt) is taken from the higher portion.
Pork shoulder is a versatile cut that is favored in many recipes.
It is best for being slow-cooked, either stewed, braised, simmered, roasted, or smoked.
The higher fat content makes it a flavorful but affordable cut.
2. Pork butt
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You can also use pork butt in case a pork shoulder is not available.
Pork butt is a similar cut with pork shoulder because they are all taken from the shoulder section, instead of the butt as the name implies.
Pork butt is prized for its perfect marbling fat, making it ideal for a dry-heat cooking method.
After being simmered and served pulled apart, the pork butt is still moist and very tender.
3. Pork ham
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Pork ham is a cut from the rear leg of a pig.
Although it is traditionally used for curing, it can be a good choice for making carnitas.
This tough cut will become tender after being slow-cooked.
Since it is a lean cut, cooking with some pork lard in a carnitas recipe will help keep the meat juicy and more flavorful.
The bottom line
In conclusion, a tough cut of pork with perfect marbling fat is ideal for making pork carnitas.
A pork shoulder is a classic cut for this dish.
In case you are unable to find this cut on the market, you can opt for a similar cut like pork butt or pork ham that is prized for its flavorful taste and tender texture after slow-cooking.
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