This is most definitely a crowd pleaser. Every time we make it we're asked for the recipe. Perfect for any casual gathering. It takes while to cook in the oven, we find it easiest to make it the day before a party and then simply reheating prior to serving. Anytime you can make something ahead of time for a party the better! You will likely have a lot of little things to take care of to set the party up and once guests arrive you want to socialize.
Just note it uses a rub that you'll need to have at the ready so plan to pick it up locally or order it online. Don't worry that is says it is a coffee rub, the coffee adds depth but no notable coffee flavor.
Coffee Braised Pork Shoulder Carnitas
Slightly adapted from Just Cook Foods.
3 - 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder (if bone-in, scale up the weight at bit, but boneless will be easier to cut)
2 - 3 tbs Just Cook Foods Herbed Coffee Rub
1 yellow onion
1/2 cup chicken stock
dash of apple cider vinegar (optional)
Cut pork shoulder into smaller, fist sized pieces. Toss generously with the coffee rub. Let sit for 3 hours or overnight in refrigerator.
Brown pork on all sides in canola oil in a heavy oven proof pot. You may need to do so in batches as you do not want to crowd the pork when browning. Once browned, remove from pot and set aside as you brown the rest of the meat.
Once all the meat is browned, return to pot, add sliced onion and chicken stock to cover the pork 1/3 of the way.
Cover, bring to a boil and then cook in preheated 300° oven for 3 to 4 hours until the meat falls apart easily.
Break apart with a wooden spoon and serve hot with your favorite corn or flour tortillas.
Recommended taco toppings:
Whole Foods Pineapple salsa. They may carry it in the store so you can just buy it, otherwise, here is the recipe.
Finely diced red onion
Pickled mustard seeds
If you cannot get great tortillas from the store, try asking your favorite a local Mexican place if they will sell you some of their handmade ones. If you live in NYC, Los Tacos in Chelsea Market will do this. If ordering a lot you can pre-order with them. And we discovered a few months ago that it is really easy to make your own corn tortillas!! And they are way superior to store bought.
Sourcing your meat: While you can probably find some the day you want to make it, to be sure it is in stock and high quality, I suggest ordering it through your local butcher, or even Whole Foods. In downtown Manhattan, you can pre-order amazing pork shoulder from Dicksons Farmstand Meats at Chelsea Market, or Hudson & Charles in the West Village and Upper West Side. Up in the Stone Ridge, NY (Catskills/Hudson Valley), pre-order from Applestone Meat Company.
This is super easy to scale up. Get more pork shoulder, scale up the onion and chicken broth. You just need enough broth to cover the pork 1/3 of the way. And simply coat your pork pieces in rub, no need to measure. We had a 10lb pork shoulder for one gathering and it was enough to fed a group of 14 people (along with a chorizo and potato dish) and left us with a few more servings. If you use a larger pork shoulder you may need to split it into two pots.
Make it the day before your event so all you have to do is heat it up. Simply put in a pot and warm on the stove. It actually tastes even better the next day, especially if you get some a little crispy when you warm it up. Use a pretty one and serve straight from it - we always use this Le Creuset Dutch Oven.
To reheat a small amount, say from leftovers for just yourself, put some in a hot pan on medium high heat and saute until warmed through and a little crispy. The crispy bits add texture and flavor.
The rub: Just Cook Herbed Coffee Rub. Sold directly from Just Cook for $8.50 a canister. One is enough to make this recipe 2 - 3 times.