I think that the whole reason to make this dish is the sauce.  It makes the whole taco with everything in it taste extra fresh.  At first I thought the Coca-Cola was a gimmick until I tried it.  You can really taste a subtle special flavor in the Carnitas when they are done but only if you do not drown them in the sauce.  I also like making use of an inexpensive cut of meat like a pork shoulder.  It is a fatty and tough cut of meat but cooking it for a long time makes it tender and a lot of the fat is boiled away. Ingredients: For the pork carnitas taco filling: 5-7 pound pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt) boneless or bone-in 1 white onion, peeled and chopped 8 ounces Mexican Coca-Cola (may substitute regular USA cola) 3 cups water ½ cup orange juice 8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine ½ teaspoon oregano Salt to taste Optional – try adding a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon Alternate carnitas braising liquid: 2 cups orange juice ½ cup lime juice 2 cups water 8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine 1 onion, peeled and chopped Ground red pepper Cumin Oregano Cinnamon Salt …all to taste For the tacos: Soft or hard tacos Cilantro, chopped onion, tomato, lettuce and cheese to make additional stuffing fixings For the sauce: 1 cup cilantro, chopped 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced.  Be careful!  If you do not like so much heat, just slice once lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and inner pulp with a spoon. ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon onion powder ½ teaspoon ground cumin 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (juice from one fresh lime) 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 cup Mexican table cream (You may make your own by substituting ½ cup heavy cream or table cream plus ½ cup sour cream with a dash of optional cream cheese.) Salt to taste – but be careful not to over-salt.  First, cut up the pork shoulder into 2-3 inch cubes, removing the bone if you have bought a bone-in shoulder.  In a medium-large pot, submerge the chunks in all of the ingredients called for in the carnitas section above.  Simmer the pork for 2-3+ hours, stirring occasionally.  In my experience they are finished much faster than that.  Yours will cook faster or slower depending on the toughness of the meat, the size of the pot, etc.  Be careful that you do not simmer on too high a heat.  The liquid will cook off, even if covered, and your carnitas will stick to the pot and burn.  Add some more liquid if that happens to you.  On my electric stove I have to set my burner on just above the lowest setting to simmer but not burn off the liquid. Test for doneness by checking if the individual chunks are fork tender or not.  Over cooking them will not hurt their taste, but the meat will eventually disintegrate and I prefer my carnitas to be a little chunky.  When they are done, drain the carnitas but reserve a bit of the water in case you need to moisturize them a little.  At this point the carnitas are cooked through but we want to add some flavor to them by broiling them a little. Break up the chunks to about 1 ½ inch or so and arrange them on a large baking sheet.  Broil them close to the heat source for 4-6 minutes then remove them and flip and stir them a little.  Then broil for about another 5 minutes.  The object is to get the carnitas a little bit crispy and browned.  Watch them carefully and do not overcook them and dry them out.  They are done as soon as they look delicious. For the sauce, just place all its ingredients in a blender and purée.  I like to use a squeeze bottle to squirt the finished sauce over the carnitas after placing them on an open soft tortilla for a good looking presentation on the plate.  You can freshen leftover sauce just by stirring in some fresh lime juice. Quick Broiled al Pastor Version Ingredients: For the marinade: 1 ½ cups orange juice ½ cup fresh lime juice 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine 1 tablespoon salt Red pepper flakes to taste 2-4 teaspoons achiote (annatto) paste – Optional, but adds a great Mexican flavor 1-5 pounds pork shoulder, or Boston Butt, bone removed For the Sriracha mayo: ¼ cup or so mayonnaise 2-4 tablespoons Sriracha sauce Place the pork in your freezer for 2-4 hours and take it out when it is partially frozen.  Then you can easily slice it into paper-thin slices for easy marinating. Combine all the marinade ingredients and use a blender to puree all if you are using the achiote paste. Marinate the sliced pork for 4-6 hours or overnight. Broil the marinated pork near the top rack position in your oven for 3-5 minutes until done. Serve quickly or keep warm since the paper thin slices will cool very quickly. Serve with the Sriracha mayo and other taco stuff: Tortillas, 6 inch – warmed in a hot skillet for about 60 seconds per side Lettuce Chopped fresh white onion Shredded cheese Salsa
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Tacos with Pork Carnitas and Lime Sauce