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Recipe of the Month: Weeknight Carnitas

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Fall is here, and with the change in season comes a subtle shift in mood. The heady flavors of just-picked produce are fading, and as the weather cools, my thoughts naturally turn to slow-cooked roasts and braises – something I am not inclined to do during those hot summer months.

Fall also means relaxed summer days are behind us and productivity takes a front seat at work and school. Suddenly, evenings are filled with homework, after school activities and perhaps longer work hours. How can we keep up with the pace while still making sure we can fill the bellies of our loved ones with something hot and nourishing on a Wednesday night?

Enter the Instant Pot.

This little miracle of a machine has been a lifesaver! It’s basically a modern-day pressure cooker, easy to use and extremely efficient. It means that on a busy weeknight, I can hit the store on my way home from work and still have dinner on the table within an hour or less – even if what I really, really want to eat tonight is something that usually takes hours of slow-roasting to become it’s magical meaty self.   Like carnitas!

Carnitas literally means “little meats.” It’s referring to the fork-tender, falling off the bone quality that a pork roast takes on when slow roasted or braised at low heat for hours and hours. But who has time for that on a Wednesday? YOU do, if you have an Instant Pot!

Cook’s Note: Weeknight Carnitas can also be made in a traditional slow-cooker. Simply prepare the meat the night before and either let it cook overnight, or plop it in the cooker first thing in the morning and let it cook all day while at work.


3-4 lbs pork roast (shoulder or butt, the best quality you can afford)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Cara Cara orange
6+ cloves of peeled garlic (feel free to add more!)
2 cloves shallot, diced
1-2 dried bay leaves

Step 1:
Cut the roast into smaller, 2-4 inch pieces. No need to measure, just use your best judgement. Put the pieces into the Instant Pot.Inline image


Step 2:
Add the spices and toss to coat.Inline image


Step 3:
Squeeze the orange juice into the pot.Inline image


Step 4:
Add the garlic, shallot and bay leaves. Toss to coat.Inline image


Step 5:
Put the cover on the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is turned to ”sealing.”

Step 6:
Press the “Manual” button and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.Inline image

Once it’s finished, let it sit for at least 20 minutes while the pressure returns to normal. If you’re really hungry and don’t want to wait, you can carefully move the valve to release the steam quickly.

Serve with tortillas, or use butter lettuce instead, like we do. Prepare your carnitas however you like – guacamole, plain avocado, salsa, lime, kimchee, sauerkraut…whatever floats your boat. And voila! Weeknight carnitas, just like grandma used to make!

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