Do you know what carnitas is? You may often see it on the menu of many Mexican restaurants. This is a type of meaty dish, most often served with a tortilla, beans, rice and toppings. For those who what to try carnitas but are not quite sure what to expect from this dish, Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant would like to share more about carnitas, how it is made and how it differs from other Mexican style meat dishes.
What is Carnitas Meat Made Of?
Carnitas is the Spanish word for “little meat” which is basically a Mexican pork dish. Carnitas is an inexpensive piece of heavily marbled cut of pork. The cuts are mostly the boneless Boston butt, picnic ham or pork shoulder. The pork cuts are either braised or simmered for several hours. Before it is cooked, it is seasoned and covered in lard to make the meat more tender and easier to pull and or shred. After the meat has been cooked, it goes through a roasting process which makes the meat more crispy. Once the meat has been prepared, it is most often served with soft tortillas accompanied with beans and rice. For those who like sour cream guacamole and other toppings, you can easily add them to this dish. Often Carnitas is its own dish, but the meat can be used in other Mexican dishes such as burritos, enchiladas and chimichangas.
What’s the Difference Between Carnitas & Barbacoa, Pulled Pork & Beef?
Often the different Mexican meat dishes will get confused with others or interchanged. To better understand how carnitas is different, here are some of the other types of Mexican meat and how they are different.
Carnitas & Barbacoa – Where carnitas is a slow cooked braised pork, Barbacoa is a slow cooked braised beef. Barbacoa is usually the beef cheeks and is seasoned with an adobo seasoning. After the barbacoa has been cooked, it too is pulled which is why these two types of meat dishes can be confused with one another.
Carnitas & Pulled Pork – Both carnitas and pulled pork is cooked using the same method and both are pulled into smaller pieces. What makes pulled pork different is its seasonings. Pulled pork is less crispy and tends to be softer and more tender.
Carnitas & Carne Asada – Like barbacoa, carne asada is made with beef and not pork. Carne asada uses the beef strips such as sirloin or rib and is marinated in a lime juice and carne asada seasoning. The meat is cut into pieces and not pulled or shredded. The cut of marinated meat is grilled.
What is the Flavor of Carnitas?
As you can see carnitas is a much different type of meat dish. Not only do you get a bite full of crispy shredded pork, but you also get a unique flavor. As recipes can vary on the carnitas seasoning, generally carnitas season consist of:
• Salt and Black pepper
• Onion and Onion Powder
• Garlic and Garlic Power
• Chili Powder
• Lime juice