It was only a matter of time before I posted a recipe using my second love...the Instapot. Living in small spaces with limited space to store things, an appliance has to be pretty special to earn its place in my kitchen. When I first received the Instapot, I was living in a tiny apartment in Marina Del Rey by the water in Los Angeles. The small kitchen in the apartment was a sacrifice that me and my roommate made to be in walking distance to the beach and to have an air conditioner (no joke, this is not a given but it is an essential for this Texas girl!) and a washer and dryer in unit (this was a huge premium)
I cannot stress how small this kitchen was so when I received a huge box in the mail that revealed the Instapot, I was horrified! My wonderful sister had sent it to me for my birthday and I couldn't have been more confused as to why she would do such a thing! This was a few years back and I had been living in Japan for a few years prior to this move. I hadn't used a microwave in 4+ years much less a rice cooker. Now, I know what you are thinking. Japan and rice cookers? Isn't that standard in every kitchen? Yes it is. Can I read Japanese? Absolutely not! Isn't it pretty simple to figure out? You would think so but everything is much more high tech in Japan. For instance, since the apartments in Japan don't have an oven...me being a baker, the first thing I wanted to purchase was a toaster oven of sorts. Well I did. For a ton of money because Japan is expensive! This thing could have made water into caviar if you only knew how to use it. The manual itself was half an inch thick and entirely in Japanese which was expected. What wasn't expected was the lack of picture demonstrations. I finally called and emailed the manufacturer of the product and begged them for mercy. They finally ended up emailing me the manual of a similar microwave/toaster oven/steamer (yes, I didn't realize it did all three!!) in ENGLISH!
Guess what? With some heavy reading, I found out that I could have set my entire apartment on fire. Unbeknownst to me, there was a cardboard piece inside that I really should have removed before using it. Who knew?? So back to the topic - yeah no. I couldn't figure out how to use the rice cookers in Japan...the old boil and cover method was still a go at my place even though it took exactly half of the burners on my stove.
So this monster that arrived - it wasn't small by any means. My sister went with the 6 quart...you know for just me. I had to keep it on my tiny counter...why? Because there literally was no other place it would fit. Oh and I tried to get it in that tiny cabinet above the fridge -- it wasn't even close. So, with it being on the counter, I went ahead and looked up some YouTube videos for recipe. Guess what? There is a HUGE following for Instapot lovers...like huge! This love is real and enduring. Well, I made my first recipe using it and it's been a love affair since. If you guys don't have one or have been teetering on the edge of getting one but don't know if you have room for it etc etc... GET ONE. Trust me. I could literally use it every day and some weeks I would until I discovered the Air Fryer. But I still use it on the regular because we have a mutual love affair that isn't going anywhere!
Moving on, this recipe ya'll. It's soooo good! Let me list the ways! It uses pork shoulder/butt so it is CHEAP. I mean you can get 2 pounds for under $10! Plus it will feed you and your family and if it's just you, then lots of leftovers! Tacos are my go to but you really can pair this with a quinoa or brown rice bowl with lots of veggies, in quesadillas, in omelets, etc... It may look like a bunch of ingredients, but if you make this as often as I do, you can do it in your sleep and it comes together pretty fast. I did a video to show how easy. The recipe that I usually use calls for orange juice...but SOMEONE drank the fresh juice that I had squeezed for this so instead, in the video, I just squeezed some from 2 oranges that I had and then threw them both in. You can certainly do that as the liquid from the chicken broth is enough or you can use regular OJ. But the orange juice is necessary so that when you put the shredded pork in the oven under the broiler, it get all crispy and caramelized! Also, it looks so pretty :).
Delicious looking, right?! Now if you do end up doing pork carnitas tacos, I think it's almost necessary to top them with pickled red onions. Now I don't know what it is about them, but it is something that I definitely have in my fridge at all times. I usually make them on the stovetop but sometimes you just need a pickled red onion and and you need it fast! So I have a secret recipe that I use for when I have just 30 minutes to devote to this. I made the ones in the above picture first, before I started my Instapot to cooking and by the time my carnitas was done, so were my beautiful, tangy onions. Here is the nitty gritty version that takes about 5 minutes to put together:
Fast Pickled Red Onions
1/2 large red onion, peeled and cut in thin slices
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar (white distilled, red or white vinegar works too)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 Tbsp sweetener (I used agave, but you can also use honey or even maple syrup)
1. In a glass weck jar (or a glass measuring cup), stir together the vinegar, salt and sweetener. You can certainly add other flavors in here too if you like. To mine, I added a few whole black peppercorns, and a smashed garlic clove.
2. Microwave for a minute or two until it is hot (you will see small bubbling on the sides when you open the microwave. Start with a minute and stir and then add another minute or so until the mixture is hot enough to dissolve the sweetener/salt.
3. Once the mixture is hot, add the sliced onions and stir until everything is combined.
4. Let cool for 30 minutes and use right away. Seal your weck jar and put it directly in the fridge (or store the rest in a mason jar or a tightly sealed container) and it will keep for up to 2 weeks. Voila!
Okay, now that we have that sorted...let's get to the main attraction!
2 lbs pork shoulder or butt, cubed into large 1 to 1.5" pieces
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 white onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped small
1 jalapeño, large dice (I normally use a Serrano for some heat)
2 bay leaves
2 limes, juiced
1 1/2 cup orange juice (you can use less if you want/also you can juice 2 large oranges with 1 Tbsp of orange zest and add the oranges into the Instapot)
1 cup broth (I used chicken but any would work)
fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
lime wedges, for garnish
Set the Instapot on sauté mode. Once hot, add the meat and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes. Work in batches if necessary.
Add in all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Press cancel on the Instapot and secure the lid. Make sure that the valve on top is closed.
Set the Instapot on Manual at high pressure and set for 30 minutes. Let pressure release on it's own for 20 minutes and then removed the lid.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat onto a large baking tray. Use the spoon to break up the meat into smaller pieces. They should be super tender and fall apart.
Have a taste and add salt per taste (I usually have to add some depending on how well I salted prior to cooking). Squeeze some lime juice as well.
Place the tray under your oven's broiler for a few minutes or until the pork begins to brown and get crispy. Keep an eye on it as it can burn easily!
Pull out of the oven when it's done and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.
There you have it! Now you are ready to build your tacos! Warm up corn tortillas (I never use flour tortillas for tacos!!!) and put a good amount of the pork carnitas on there. Top with the pickled red onions that you just made and an extra bit of cilantro. Drizzle with my everything sauce (recipe is right here) and enjoy!
LINK TO ALL THE THINGS:
Instapot (really life changing)
Taco holders (I love mine!)
Weck Jars (perfect for pickling things!)