I Made the Serious Eats Sous Vide Carnitas Tacos with Tortillas from La Unica.

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I obviously haven’t done enough cooking lately with Thanksgiving and all, so I decided it was time to do some carnitas. I feel like sous vide is perfectly suited to carnitas so I decided to go with the Sous Vide Carnitas from SeriousEats.

If you’re not familiar with Sous Vide, you basically use an immersion circulator to keep a water bath at a steady temp, then you vacuum seal the food and put it in the water bath. After a few hours your food is at exactly the same temp as the water, so if you want your steak cooked medium rare, you get perfect medium rare.

It’s also especially good for doing long cooks at low temps. It doesn’t tie up your oven or make your kitchen hot and it uses a lot less power.

I have an ancient Anova, but santa might be getting me the Anova AN500 since it’s currently on sale pretty cheap. It’s the newer, higher wattage version of mine. It has wifi so you can start the food while you aren’t home and all kinds of other neat tricks.

My setup uses a Coleman stackable cooler with a hole cut in the lid with a hole saw. I can’t find the model of cooler I have anymore though. It looks like this:

The cooler works well because not only does the lid hold the circulator in place, the lid prevents condensation on long cooks and the insulative properties of the cooler means that it uses less power to keep the water at the temp you specify.

Anyway, the gist of this recipe is to cook some pork shoulder along with orange, onion, garlic, etc in a plastic bag for a really long time. They give you a few choices of temp that gives you different results in the final product. I went with 165°F, the recommended temp for tacos. That should give me easily shreddable pork that’s still super moist and juicy. I’m starting these around 3pm on Sunday so they’ll be over the 24 hour mark on Monday, before dinner time.

First, and really only, order of business is to bag everything up. You can use any pork shoulder cut up into chunks, but I’m super lazy so i went with “Boneless ribs”. Boneless ribs or “Country Style” ribs are actually just boneless pork shoulder cut into strips. Basically they’ve done all the deboning and cutting and trimming for you, so all that’s left is to cut them up into chunks.

There’s one slight issue with this recipe, but I figured out a way around it. It says to add the juice of an orange to the pork, then vacuum seal it. Home foodsaver-style vacuum sealers, however, do not like liquid at all. They can’t pull a vacuum if they’re sucking up liquid. I got around this by cutting the orange into pieces and then freezing the pieces, then adding the frozen orange chunks to the bag. Since the freezing will break the cell walls of the orange, it will release all of it’s juice as soon as it heats up in the water bath. Science!

I dropped the bag into the sous vide, and since I had 24 hours to kill, I decided that grocery store tortillas were not gonna cut it. I made a reasonably short trip to La Unica. A mexican restaurant and tortilleria on Summer Ave.

You actually purchase the tortillas at the restaurant next door. They’re in a cooler on the east side of the restaurant.

For less than $7 including tax, you get a huge bag of white corn tortillas. They have SO MUCH more flavor than the grocery store ones and they’re way cheaper, I’m basically never buying grocery store tortillas again.

24 hours later, you can remove your pork from the bag and discard the aromatics. I did make a mistake here, I shredded the pork before I broiled it, and it make it a little on the dry side. You want to leave it in large chunks, then broil, and then shred. The flavor was on point though, so I’m just gonna use my mistake an an excuse to make another batch next weekend.

I did tacos on my fresh, local tortillas, with cotija cheese, cilantro and fine diced white onion.

This recipe is going in the rotation for sure. It’s super easy, especially once everything is bagged up. I think I’m going to remake it again this weekend and try a few things differently. As I mentioned before, I’m going to change my method for browning to try and dry out the meat less. Also, I feel like this is something that could be prepped up to the point of bagging everything up, then tossed in a freezer and could just go straight to the sous vide from frozen. If that works as well as I think it will, I’m going to always have a bag of this in my deep freezer. I’ll report back with how well it freezes.

Sous Vide Carnitas from SeriousEats.com