Although I was born and raised in Maui, Hawaii, I've lived in California now for nearly a decade and over that time my love of Mexican cuisine has grown from an adoration to an obsession. I have been know to eat tacos for both lunch and dinner, and my go-to is always carnitas. Although I understand that traditional carnitas is simmered for hours in lard, this new-school version is prepared using an Instant Pot!
If you aren't familiar, the Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker that has widely gained popularity in the Whole30 and Paleo circles for its ease of use, and ability to harness the flavor of natural ingredients with pressure-- no processed foods here, just whole ingredients!
I got really into preparing large roasts and crock-pot style meals when my boyfriend (now husband) and I first moved in with each other straight out of college. I needed a way to feed a hungry man (aka prove I was wifey material) with little time and a tight budget. Nearly a decade and a marriage proposal later, it turns out the key to a man's heart really is through his stomach.
When my trusty old crock pot finally cracked last year I went looking for a replacement. My darling friend Gabriela of Spicy Loves Chaos suggested I check out the Instant Pot, a revolutionary electric pressure cooker that doubles as a slow cooker with the flip of a valve! Not only does this amazing appliance significantly speed up the cooking process, and use 70% less energy, but it also can sauté right in the pot cutting down on dishes!
Back in the day I'd put a pork shoulder in the crock-pot before I left for work to cook all day. This is a great solution to dinner if you have your shit together. But when it's 6:00 PM, and you're just getting home from the gym, and you're suddenly craving that falling-apart-cooked-all-day style carnitas, the Instant Pot will come to the rescue!
You can achieve the same level of tenderness in a fraction of the time with this delicious recipe. I also love that if you happen to actually have your shit together as mentioned previously, you can still slow-cook with this baby if you so choose.
Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Carnitas Tacos
For the Carnitas
1 bone-in pork shoulder (6 -7lbs)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 pasilla-ancho chili pod, dried
1 dried bay leaf
1 large fresh orange
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 cups of stock (chicken, beef, vegetable or any bone broth will do)
1 tablespoon fat of choice (ghee, avocado oil, duck fat etc.)
For the Slaw
1 small green cabbage, thinly sliced
1-2 radishes, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon agave syrup, to taste (omit for Whole30)
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
3 limes, quartered
1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled (omit for Whole30)
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
hot sauce of choice
tortillas of choice (organic corn or for a grain-free option sub with butter lettuce cups or Siete Foods Cassava & Coconut Tortillas)
For the Carnitas...
Begin by cutting the pork meat away from the bone into 2-inch cubes. Don't worry about how it looks, all the meat will be falling apart by the end! Don't discard the piece with the bone in it, that will also go in the pot.
Place all the cubed pork and bone piece into the instant pot and sprinkle with the salt, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano and ground chipotle. Toss well to coat the meat.
Use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler to slice the rind off of the entire orange into long strips. Try your best to only get the peel and not much of the white pith.
Add all of your orange rind strips along with the garlic cloves, quartered onion, bay leaf and pasilla-ancho chili pod to the Instant Pot.
Squeeze the juice from the orange and add all the juice to the pot along with the two cups of stock.
Place the lid onto the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is set to the "sealing" position.
Using the settings for your pot, cook on "Manual" set to "High Pressure" for 45 minutes. (Stovetop pressure cooker users should cook under high pressure for 50 minutes.)
Let the pressure release naturally if you have time (about 20 minutes), or use the quick-release valve.
Once the time is up, open the lid and take in the delicious aroma! Using a slotted spoon transfer the pork to either a cutting board or large container and begin to discard any large pieces of fat. Toss out the bone, bay leaf, and orange peels.
Shred the pork using two forks.
If you like crispy carnitas like I do, heat the ghee, avocado oil, or duck fat over medium heat in a cast iron skillet.
Once the skillet is hot add the shredded pork and fry until you reach desired crispiness.
For the Slaw...
In a medium bowl combine the cabbage, radishes, and red onion.
Dress the slaw by adding the agave and red wine vinegar. Season with a dash of salt and pepper. Toss until well combined.
I like to heat my tortillas either on the bbq grill for a rustic charred look or in a skillet on the stovetop will do. Arrange a nice pile of crispy carnitas on to your tortilla, top with the crunchy slaw, freshly squeezed lime, cotija cheese, and garnish with cilantro and avocado slices. Last but not least add some color and heat with a dash of your favorite hot sauce!