Enjoying Traditional Foods In Modern Times

Mexican cuisine has been evolving for centuries with influences that reach halfway around the globe that have also withstood the test of time. One of the most flavorful and recognizable in the entire world, Mexican foods consists of a few unique ingredients along with some of the most commonly used items in all types of cuisine.

Corn, rice, and beans are three of the most traditional as well as inexpensive ingredients used in Mexican cooking and they have remained an integral part of the entire Mexican food experience. These foods along with a variety of peppers and spices such as Mexican oregano and, of course, dried chilies combine to create some of the most aromatic dishes ever created such as carnitas.

Carnitas, which translates into “little meats” in Spanish, refers to pork meat that is browned, braised, or roasted and is a dish that has been enjoyed for many years. Carnitas dishes are well known and may vary by region throughout the large country of Mexico and the pieces of pork are often served along with refried beans, salsa, and tortillas.

Traditionally, carnitas were cooked only in copper pots over a low flame to ensure even heat distribution and cooking but you can use any kind of pot with a thick, solid bottom for making all of your carnitas recipes.

Cheddar Cheese Carnitas Recipe

What You Need

  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 2-1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, diced
  • Sour cream for serving

How to Make It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the olive or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the 1 inch pieces of pork along with salt and pepper to taste until each piece is browned on all sides. After browning, place the pork in a casserole dish with a lid that fits securely.

Leave about 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet before adding the onions and cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the minced garlic and the finely chopped jalapenos to the skillet and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos to the casserole dish along with the chicken broth. Stir to mix well and add the lid.

Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the pork is tender stirring the casserole only once during cooking. If the liquid cooks away before the pork is done, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to keep everything from burning.

Add the carnitas mixture to the warmed tortillas and serve along with toppings including shredded cheddar cheese, diced avocados, tomatoes, black olives, and a few dollops of sour cream or the toppings of your choice.