Step one: Buy so much lard.
Photographs by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed; design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
In Mexico, you eat carnitas when your daughter turns 15 or your father dies; when you graduate from college or you retire from the civil service. You eat carnitas, like I did, every Friday after school, at the same filthy-delicious taco stand owned by a silent taquero named Güero. And you eat carnitas the night before you set out for the north.
I wrote an essay to go with this recipe about why I started making carnitas at home. But this recipe requires more than an explanation of my complicated emotional relationship with braised pork; it requires step-by-step photographs.
Below you will find directions on how to make carnitas without access to Güero's giant copper vat or a whole pig or a tortilla-making machine or a well-stocked chile stand or decent avocados or juicy limes or any of the things that make life in Mexico wonderful. This recipe will tell you how to make something that approaches carnitas but will never really be the real thing, because the real thing only really exists in the memory of people who have left the old country.
To be clear, this takes a full 24 hours: You have to soak the beans the night before you plan to eat, and the pork needs to simmer for 6-8 hours. During that time, you can get drunk, make two salsas, beans, and spicy green rice. And then you will feast. Also, most of it is appropriately (ie extremely) spicy, especially the green salsa, the pickled onions, the green rice, and the beans.
Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
For the ingredients with an asterisk (*) like chiles and herbs, you may need to go to a Mexican grocery store. For the lard, call a butcher.