The first time I made Keto Carnitas, I couldn’t believe how good they turned out. The second time, I forgot to put in the jalapeños and they were so-so, still good, but it just felt like something was missing. Don’t be afraid of those jalapeños, they really are not too spicy, and they add a ton of flavor. If you are using a fresh jalapeño and you don’t want it too spicy, remove the seeds and the ribs (the white part that holds the seeds) because that is where the heat is. If you’re still wary about the spice, just try putting in a half of one, or go the pickled jalapeño route. I use my homemade pickled jalapeños for this.
This calls for a pork shoulder, but you can use just about any type of inexpensive pork for this-the cheaper the better, actually. The last time I made this recipe I used a pork picnic and just cut off the skin piece that normally comes with it. If your pork has bones in it, keep them in, it just adds flavor!
- 2.5 lb pork shoulder, cut into pieces
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or more)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth (I make mine with water and a tbsp of “Better than Bouillon”)
- 1/8 cup of lime juice or 1 squeezed lime (the acid helps tenderize tough meat)
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 medium to large fresh jalapeño (remove the seeds and the ribs), finely chopped OR about the same amount in pickled jalapeños, also finely chopped.
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic OR 3 tsp pre-minced garlic in the jar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika. If you don’t have any, regular paprika is fine.
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
Once you have cut the pork into pieces, add the olive oil to a stock pot and let it heat up. Once it’s hot, put the pork pieces in and brown each side of each piece. Don’t crowd the pot: just put in a few at a time, brown them and remove, then add another batch. If the oil soaked into the meat on the first batch, add some more oil to the pot. Do this as many times as you need to to get all of the pork pieces browned. Once you have browned all of the pork pieces and removed them from the pot, pour in the chicken broth and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen up the good bits. Add the pork and the rest of the ingredients into the pot. Put the lid on and simmer on low to med-low for about 3-4 hours.
I use a stock pot, but if you have a crockpot you can just as easily use that. Just make sure you brown the pork pieces in a pan, and deglaze that pan into the crockpot. You don’t have to, but they turn out soooo much better if you do.
After the pork has been cooking for a few hours, give it a stir and see how the meat is looking. If it tears easily with a fork, its done. If not, let it cook some more. If it’s not done but the pot is getting dry, add another cup of broth.
Once the pork is done, remove it from the pot (save the juice) and place it on a cutting board. Set your oven to broil at 500 degrees. Take two forks in either hand and shred the meat. Once its all shredded, place on a baking sheet, spoon over some of the juice from the pot, and broil at 500 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the meat a bit to reveal unbroiled areas and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes. This helps to caramelize that boiled fat into something sweet and savory and a little crispy.
These Keto Carnitas are delicious all by themselves, or with Keto BBQ sauce, on Keto Tortillas, or as a naked fajita with some sautéed onions, sour cream, guacamole, and shredded cheese of your choice. Keto Carnitas also freeze extremely well. I will make a big batch and freeze portions that I can microwave real fast for a quick snack or meal.