If you’re in search of a mouthwatering and simple-to-make Mexican delight, look no further than street-style carnitas tacos! Picture this: crispy slow-cooked pork carnitas, topped with onions and cilantro, nestled in a soft corn tortilla. Whether you’re hosting a party or craving a satisfying main course, these tacos are perfect. The best part? They’re incredibly easy to prepare, ensuring that anyone can whip them up!
At our house, Taco Tuesday has become a beloved tradition. However, why restrict taco night to just one day? As the weather warms up, we take full advantage of our deck, grilling carne asada, and indulging in refreshing strawberry mojitos and bottomless boozy strawberry lemonade. It’s about allowing ourselves to appreciate the simple pleasures once again.
In a world that has faced numerous challenges over the past few years, finding joy in the small things has become the highlight of my day. And what could be better than savoring some of life’s greatest little pleasures? Enter carnitas street tacos! These delectable treats are savory, rich, and oh-so-juicy. You might even need extra napkins to catch the deliciousness that drips from each bite.
Now, let’s dive into the art of making the best pork carnitas street tacos. From selecting the perfect cut of pork to discovering the ideal toppings and accompaniments, I have compiled all the essential tips and tricks to elevate your taco game to new heights.
What Makes Carnitas So Special?
The term “carnitas” translates to “little meats” in Spanish. These succulent delights create the most mouthwatering pork tacos you could ever imagine. Traditional carnitas tacos are typically made from pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or boston butt. The pork is slowly cooked in lard, confit-style, until it becomes tender and juicy. Then, the heat is cranked up to high, resulting in irresistibly crispy edges.
The beauty of homemade carnitas lies in their accessibility. They resemble Mexican pulled pork, but instead of slow-cooking the meat in pork fat, the pork butt is braised in a crockpot with chicken broth, citrus juices, spices, and herbs. This method produces tender, flavorful pork that can be easily shredded, much like pulled pork for sandwiches. Consider it the Mexican version of this beloved classic.
The Allure of Street Tacos
Mexican street tacos and street food play a central role in modern Mexican culture. Stalls lining the streets of major cities are brimming with delectable treats known as “antojitos” or “little cravings.” These snacks or small meals are not meant to be the main course; instead, they provide the perfect sustenance for a stroll. Street tacos, in particular, embody this spirit.
What sets street tacos apart from their regular counterparts is their size. These delightful morsels are typically served on small corn tortillas, making them easy to hold and devour on the go. To prevent tearing or ripping, taquerias often double up the corn tortilla, ensuring that every bite is a perfect combination of flavors. Lime wedges are always plentifully served alongside, adding a zesty punch to each taco.
Selecting the Perfect Pork for Carnitas
When it comes to buying pork for carnitas, the best cut to use is pork butt, also known as boston butt. This thick, fatty cut excels in low and slow cooking methods, making it perfect for use in a slow cooker, smoker, or oven. The tough connective tissue gradually melts away during the cooking process, leaving behind juicy, tender chunks of pork.
When shopping for pork butt, look for reddish-pink meat with plenty of marbled fat. Avoid meat that appears blue-green or has pale meat and dark spots on the fat. Raw pork can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days. If you plan to cook it later in the week, freezing it is an excellent option. Simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before preparing this delectable carnitas recipe.
Mastering the Art of Crafting Pork Carnitas Street Tacos
Prepare to be amazed by the simplicity of this recipe. Throw all the ingredients into your trusty slow cooker and let it work its magic. While the pork is cooking, why not try your hand at making homemade corn tortillas? Believe me, they’re much easier to make than you might think.
Once the pork is tender and juicy, transfer it to a cutting board and shred it using two forks. Then, place the shredded pork on a baking sheet and drizzle some of the rendered fat from the slow cooker over it. Give it a good toss and pop it under the broiler until the edges turn irresistibly crisp. Now, assemble your carnitas street tacos by placing the pork on warm corn tortillas, doubling them up for extra sturdiness. Top them off with fresh cilantro, onions, and a squeeze of lime for an authentic street taco experience. Simple, satisfying, and undeniably delicious.
Ingredients That Make It Extra Special
To create the best pork carnitas tacos, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Boneless Pork Shoulder (Pork Butt)
- Mojo Marinade or Orange Juice
- Onions and Garlic
- Chicken Broth
Mojo marinade, typically used in Cuban cuisine, adds a burst of flavor to the pork. It consists of sour orange juice, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and oregano. You can find pre-made mojo marinade at your local Hispanic market or make your own using a combination of lime and orange juice, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and oregano.
Elevate Your Tacos with the Perfect Toppings
The beauty of street tacos lies in their simplicity. Due to their small size, they don’t require an abundance of toppings. However, this presents a delightful opportunity to experiment with different combinations. Here are some topping types to consider:
- Type 1: Brightness is key to cutting through the richness of the pork. Classic pico de gallo, citrus-tossed slaw, or quick-pickled onions are excellent choices. Experiment with tangy roasted tomatillo salsa verde or fresh chimichurri for an extra flavor kick.
- Type 2: Add a touch of creaminess with crumbled queso fresco, cotija cheese, or a zesty lime avocado crema.
- Type 3: For those craving heat, indulge in orange taquera sauce, spicy red salsa, or a fiery hot sauce like Tapatio.
Exploring Other Delightful Dishes with Carnitas
The versatility of carnitas extends far beyond street tacos. Here are some additional delectable dishes to try:
- Burrito Bowls: Serve the carnitas alongside cilantro lime rice, seasoned black beans, guacamole, queso fresco, and an array of salsas. Create your very own Chipotle-style burrito bowl at home!
- Breakfast Delights: Swap out ham for pulled pork on your eggs Benedict, sauté the carnitas with breakfast potatoes in a cast-iron skillet, scramble them with eggs, or add them to a breakfast quesadilla. The entire family will savor these morning treats.
- Nacho Extravaganza: Create a mountain of cheesy, crispy corn tortilla chips topped with sour cream, refried beans, guacamole, salsa, and, of course, plenty of carnitas.
Smart Storage and Reheating Tips
This recipe yields a generous amount of carnitas meat, making it perfect for large gatherings, festive parties, or freezer meal prep. Store the carnitas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. When reheating, simply place them in the oven at 325 degrees F or use a microwave-safe bowl or plate in the microwave until hot.
For long-term storage, freeze the pork in freezer-safe bags or sous vide bags. Freezing the meat as flat as possible allows for quicker freezing and thawing while maximizing freezer space. When ready to enjoy the carnitas, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or use a sous vide water bath set at approximately 120 degrees F until completely thawed and heated through.
So, venture into the world of creating incredible pork street tacos and embrace the joy of savoring every bite. Get creative with your toppings, experiment with different serving styles, and let the flavors transport you to the vibrant streets of Mexico. To take your culinary journey even further, try out other tantalizing taco and Hispanic dishes. The possibilities are endless, and the results will undoubtedly leave you craving more!