This past weekend, we celebrated my husband’s birthday with a bunch of friends at his family’s cottage in Parry Sound, Ontario. We usually go once or twice every summer, and we started making it a tradition to prepare some pretty killer meals while there, rather than just throw hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill! A couple years ago, I made a barbecue pulled pork in the oven. I remember waking up (hungover) on Sunday morning at 7 a.m. to make sure I got the pork in the oven, so it could bake low and slow for hours and hours. It was well worth it and such a hit! Our friends couldn’t stop raving about it. So I knew I had to bring back the pulled pork this year in some shape or form. Enter: my homemade pork carnitas and Mexican street corn!
This year, to make things even more efficient and reduce each individual’s (i.e. each girl’s) time spent in the kitchen, we decided to divvy up all of the meals over the weekend by couple. Since each couple only had one meal to prepare, we didn’t have to worry about collectively figuring out and splitting grocery costs afterwards, and it actually led to people bringing their A-game in the kitchen!
My husband and I decided to go Mexican by making homemade pork carnitas with pickled red onions, street corn, and Mexican crema over top. I’d never made pork carnitas before, pickled anything or made Mexican crema. But, I love a good challenge and experimenting in the kitchen. And that’s exactly what making pickled red onions and homemade crema felt like: a big science experiment! It was actually so fun and easy to do! In fact, it would probably be harder for you to find a Mexican specialty store that sells crema than make your own.
As a heads-up, this recipe does require a bit more time and preparation than most other recipes I’ve shared with you on my blog. But the satisfaction in the end from creating all of this stuff from scratch is what makes it all worth it! For best results, you should also buy fresh, authentic corn tortillas (making them, myself, wasn’t a challenge I was prepared to take on!), and you’ll need a Mexican white cheese, like cotija, queso fresco or Oaxaca cheese. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see from my insta-stories that I make a weekly trip to St. Lawrence Market. I was able to grab the cotija cheese, corn tortillas, pork shoulder, dairy products and all the produce that I needed for this recipe right at St. Lawrence Market.
Here’s the recipe:
Pork Carnitas with Mexican Street Corn and Homemade Crema
- 4 pounds pork shoulder
- 900 mL chicken broth
- 1 white onion chopped
- 5 cloves garlic 4 cloves chopped or minced and 1 clove whole
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/2 red onion cut into slices
- 4 jalapeños cut into slices
- 1 pack cotija cheese crumbled
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. buttermilk
- 1-2 limes 1/2 squeezed for the crema and the rest cut into wedges to serve
- 6 to 8 ears sweet corn removed from the husk
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped coarsely
- 4.5 tbsp kosher salt or sea salt
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp granulated garlic
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp black peppercorns left whole
- 1 cup white vinegar
- To make the Mexican crema: add heavy cream to a sauce pot and warm. Do not bring to a boil. Add buttermilk and mix well. Remove from stove and pour into a mason jar. Put the lid on, but do not fasten. Let stand on counter overnight to thicken. In the morning, fasten the lid and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. It will thicken even more and turn into a cream consistency. Add the juice of 1/2 of a lime and a pinch of salt. Mix and it is ready to serve!
- To make the dry rub for the pork shoulder: in a small mixing bowl, combine 3 tbsp. of salt, black pepper, cumin, granulated garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper and dried oregano to create a dry rub. Rub all over the pork shoulder and refrigerate over night.
- To make the pickled red onions: slice the red onions and take 1 clove of garlic out of peel. Put in a ceramic bowl. Add sugar, 1.5 tbsp. of salt, and peppercorns to a sauce pot. Add vinegar and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Turn heat up to medium-high and cover to bring the mixture up to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat off and pour mixture over the red onions. Let stand until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Pour into a mason jar and refrigerate over night.
- Once the pork has marinated over night, remove from fridge, let the meat come up to room temperature, and cut into thirds.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Heat vegetable oil in large Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Sear all sides of the pork. Remove pork from Dutch oven and set aside.
- Add chopped white onion and 4 chopped cloves of garlic to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add chicken broth to de-glaze the Dutch oven.
- Add the pork shoulder back to the Dutch oven. Cover with lid, place in the oven and cook for 4 hours, until the meat is very tender.
- After 4 hours, remove Dutch oven from the convection oven. Using two forks, shred the pork in the cooking liquid.
- Turn oven up to broiling temperature. Place shredded pork on a large baking sheet and pour some of the cooking liquid over top to keep the meat moist, but not cover the meat. Add to oven and broil for about 20 minutes, until the tips of the meat become crispy and brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
- About 20 minutes before you are ready to serve and while the pork is browning, you can prepare the corn.
- Wash the corn and halve each ear. Add to a large pot of boiling water and cook for a few minutes. Transfer corn to hot grill. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes, until kernels begin to turn golden brown and look charred.
- When corn is ready, place on a large plate and sprinkle with paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and fresh cilantro. Crumble cotija cheese on top of corn, drizzle Mexican crema over top generously, and add lime wedges to the plate.
- When ready to serve the tacos, warm the corn tortillas for a few minutes in the oven, until they are heated through.
- Add pork, a few slices of pickled red onions, jalapeño, fresh cilantro and crumbled cotija cheese on top of tortillas. Drizzle Mexican crema generously over top. Serve with corn on the side and enjoy!