Carnitas are a traditional Mexican dish of seasoned pork fried in lard and then slow cooked for hours. Since just about every voice in my universe says to avoid too much frying in animal fat and doing anything slow for hours in this busy mama’s world seems impossible, I’ve found a fabulous cooking alternative for this dish that never disappoints. Using a pressure cooker gives you an incredibly flavorful slow braised result in just a fraction of the time. Afterwards, popping the pork under the broiler instead of immersing them in fried animal fat not only avoids the need to go up a size in pants but provides a delicious crispy coating to the juicy shredded pork. So, take a trip to The Spice House for some authentic spices and cook up some Mexican goodness without sending your cholesterol through the roof and with several hours to spare for that siesta.
Place the oven rack in the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 300°F.
Trim the pork of excess fat and cut into 2″ chunks. Sprinkle spices, salt and pepper over pork. Turn pork over and repeat. Place the pork in a pressure cooker pot. Add enough chicken stock to not quite cover the pork and then add onion, garlic, 4-6 canned tomatoes, lime juice, maple syrup, and sprinkle with a little more seasonings.
Cover the pot with the pressure cooker lid and seal. Remove the toggle. Turn heat to high until steam is coming out of the toggle opening. Put the toggle back on and reduce heat so that it whistles 4-5 times per minute. Cook for 40 minutes. BEFORE REMOVING THE LID turn off heat and place pot in a sink with 6 inches of cold water. Once no steam comes out of the toggle when pushed, remove the lid.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork from the liquid to a foil-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
Return the pot to the stovetop and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Boil for 8-15 minutes (longer or shorter if necessary) until the liquid is thickened and glaze-y and, when stirred, the spoon leaves a trail in the liquid (you should have about 1 cup of liquid.)
Use your fingers or two forks to pull apart the pork pieces, discarding any particularly fatty pieces (or remove the fat from them.) Drizzle with the cooking liquid. Turn your oven broiler on high and place the pork in the oven for 5-8 minutes, or until the pork starts to brown and the edges become crispy. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a spatula to flip the pork. Return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes, broiling until the pork is browned and crispy (but not charred, unless that’s your thing.) Serve in warmed tortillas with desired toppings.
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