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Succulent Sous Vide Carnitas Recipe – Crispy Pulled Pork Tacos, Authentic Mexican Style

Sous Vide Carnitas Recipe: How to Make Authentic Crispy Pulled Pork Tacos - Mexican Style

Discover the magic of sous vide cooking with these mouthwatering carnitas. This foolproof method yields incredibly tender, juicy pork that’s crispy on the outside and bursting with flavor. Perfect for tacos, burritos, or as a standalone dish!

Carnitas are the crown jewel of Mexican street food. This sous vide version takes the traditional slow-cooked pork to new heights, offering a perfect balance of succulence and crispiness. By cooking the meat in a temperature-controlled water bath, we ensure that every bite is cooked to perfection.

Mastering the Art of Sous Vide Carnitas

The beauty of sous vide cooking lies in its precision. You can achieve your desired texture by adjusting the cooking temperature and time. Let’s explore the options:

Temperature and Timing Guide

Cooking Temperatures for Sous Vide Carnitas
145°F (63°C) for 24 to 36 hours Ultra-tender and moist; ideal for searing as slabs or cubing
165°F (74°C) for 12 to 24 hours Perfectly shreddable with a melt-in-your-mouth texture
185°F (85°C) for 8 to 16 hours Classic carnitas texture, easily shreddable

Crafting Your Sous Vide Carnitas

Preparing the Pork

Start with boneless pork shoulder cut into thick slabs. This ensures optimal flavor penetration and even cooking. Four pounds will generously feed 8 to 12 hungry diners.

Bagging Techniques

For best results, use a vacuum sealer. If unavailable, heavy-duty zipper-lock bags work well with the water displacement method. Just ensure the seal stays above the waterline to prevent leaks.

Cooking Process

Keep the bag fully submerged during cooking. A wet kitchen towel or weighted utensil can help if it floats. Monitor water levels, especially during longer cooks, and top up as needed.

Make-Ahead Magic

Cooked carnitas can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for 2 months, making them perfect for meal prep or entertaining.

Shredding and Crisping

Once cooked, shred the pork by hand or with forks. For the ultimate crispy finish, spread on a baking sheet and broil, or crisp in a skillet. The result? Irresistibly crispy edges with a juicy center.

Sous Vide Carnitas Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds (1.8kg) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch-thick slabs
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 stick cinnamon, broken into 3 to 4 pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium orange, peel intact
  • Kosher salt

To Serve:

  • Warm corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges
  • Chopped white onion and fresh cilantro leaves
  • Charred salsa verde or other salsa

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine pork, onion, garlic, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Quarter the orange, squeeze its juice into the bowl, and add the squeezed quarters. Season generously with kosher salt and mix well.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a vacuum seal bag and seal it securely.
  3. Set up your sous vide immersion circulator and preheat the water bath to your chosen temperature (refer to the temperature guide above).
  4. Submerge the sealed bag in the water bath. Cook for the recommended time based on your chosen temperature. Ensure the bag remains fully submerged throughout cooking.
  5. Once cooked, remove the bag from the water bath. If not serving immediately, cool to room temperature in the bag or chill in an ice bath before refrigerating or freezing.
  6. To serve, transfer the meat to a large bowl, discarding the aromatics and excess liquid. Shred the meat using two forks or your fingers, then spread it evenly on a baking sheet.
  7. Position an oven rack 3 inches below the broiler and preheat to high. Broil the pork, flipping occasionally, until browned and crisp (about 10 minutes). Alternatively, crisp the meat in batches in a skillet over medium heat.
  8. Serve your crispy carnitas with warm tortillas, lime wedges, chopped onion, cilantro, and salsa.

Pro Tips

For the best results, use a vacuum sealer. If using zipper-lock bags, double-bag the meat and use the water displacement method to remove air.

Storage and Reheating

Cooked carnitas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. To reheat, return the bag to a 165°F (74°C) water bath for 1 hour before crisping.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 329
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 9g 44%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 286mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 29mg 2%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 371mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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