Who Can Resist Sous Vide Pork Carnitas with Fresh Salsa Verde?
Whether you’re feeding a crowd for game day, looking for a great take-along meal for your next RVing adventure or nestling in for a long weekend catching up with your favorites on Netflix, this easy sous vide pork carnitas recipe can be adjusted to feed any size crowd and can easily be meal prepped ahead of time.
Pork Carnitas are a timeless Michoacan classic from western Mexico and were traditionally served by street vendors simply dressed with thinly sliced onions and chopped cilantro. You can follow the traditional serving method or add any number of perfect accompaniments, including sour cream or crema fresca, crumbled cotija or shredded white Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocados, tomatoes or pickled onions. Just spoon into some warmed white corn or flour tortillas and top with your choice of fresh ingredients and you’ll be ready to enjoy one of life’s exquisite pleasures.
Because it’s so versatile, our recipe can be prepared and cooked immediately or, with a little preplanning, you can have the meat and carnitas ingredients already assembled and in the freezer. A quick thaw and it’s ready to go into the sous vide water bath. The longer the acid from the citrus is in contact with the pork, the more tender and flavorful your results.
And if the outdoors is your cup of tea, camping and RVing season is on the horizon and we love to freeze the meat once it’s completed the cooking process and throw it into our cooler. It’s easily reheated over the campfire and ready to serve your hungry brood after a long day of hiking or fishing.
Just add a simple margarita or Mexican beer and let the fish tales begin!
Pork Carnitas with Fresh Salsa Verde
3-pound pork shoulder roast
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 to 2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Juice of two limes, one lemon and one orange
1 cup of organic chicken stock
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 tablespoon of honey or blue agave
2 to 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 to 2 bay leaves
Salsa Verde Recipe to follow (avocados are optional).
To build the layers of flavors that make this dish so memorable, start by placing your pork roast on a flat surface and rub the olive oil over the entire surface. Next, sprinkle on the chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper – massage into the oil and place in a sous vide bag or 1-gallon zip-lock freezer bag. (Please make sure that you are using freezer bags that are BPA-free for food safety reasons. Freezer bags are also thicker and less likely to break or leak during the cooking process.)
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Let the rub marinate the meat in the bag for an hour or two before proceeding onto the next step.
Once complete, the meat has had a chance to absorb the delicious herbs and spices and it’s time to prepare the carnitas liquid mixture by adding the remaining ingredients to the zip-loc bag and allowing the meat to continue to marinate before being cooked. The citrus juices will work to tenderize the meat and create a “fall off the bone” masterpiece. We recommend marinating at least one hour before submerging your roast, but it can be done several hours in advance and placed in the refrigerator.
You’re going to be cooking this recipe for a significant period of time, so it’s important to find a good spot out of the way that has a surface that won’t be damaged by heat and moisture.
Once you’ve selected your container, attach your sous vide device and start the sous vide water bath preheating to a temperature of 160 degrees.
Check out our guide to the best sous vide machines.
You will need a deep container that, once filled, the water reaches to a mid-point on the circulator between the Min and Max lines, usually about five to seven quarts, but leaves adequate room to insert your prepared pork roast without the water overflowing. Stock pots and Dutch ovens work perfectly, as do plastic sous vide containers that can be found online and in specialty kitchen and restaurant shops.
As your water bath reaches temperature, carefully place the pork carnitas into the water with one corner of your freezer bag open and slowly submerge the bag into the water letting the air escape as the meat is lowered. Again, let as much air out as you can and then seal the bag and attach to the side of the container with a binder clip or some sort of bracket. This will hold the meat and allow the water to circulate around it without getting too close to the circulator which could cause a malfunction of the unit.
Allow the roast to cook for a minimum of 8 to 10 hours or up to 16 hours. Once you’re ready to serve, carefully remove the bag and place it in a large bowl to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before opening. Again, the contents will be very hot, so be cautious.
Once the roast has cooled a bit, remove from the bag and reserve some of the liquid and onions to keep the finished dish moist. With two forks held inverted, work to shred apart the meat and move onto the serving platter. Serve with white corn or flour tortillas, shredded cheese, pickled onions, sour cream or crema fresca, Salsa Verde and fresh lime wedges.
8 to 10 tomatillos with paper husks
1 white onion, quartered
1 clove of garlic
1 to 2 jalapenos, quartered with seeds
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2-3 sprigs of fresh cilantro (plus more for
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Cubed avocado (optional for garnish)
A couple of hours before the pork is done, it’s time to make the fresh Salsa Verde and have adequate time to chill the finished product in the refrigerator before serving. To begin with, we need to blanch the tomatillos (husks removed) and what better way than in the existing sous vide water bath.
Place the cleaned fruit in its own zip-loc freezer bag and submerge in the sous vide water next to the pork carnitas for 6 to 8 minutes.
Submerge the blanched tomatillos in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and then directly into the food processor with the other ingredients.
Process for 30 seconds to one minute or until all the ingredients are finely minced and mixed thoroughly. Check for seasoning and place in a serving bowl and into the refrigerator until time to serve.
This salsa goes beautifully with grilled fish, chicken enchiladas or white bean chili…or serve simply with chips and margaritas!
Bonus: Quick Pickled Onions
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
10 to 12 peppercorns
Combine all ingredients and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three
months. These onions can go on top of tacos or pulled pork sandwiches, in salads, on top of
hot dogs or as a condiment on almost anything.