Instant Pot: Chipotle Lime Carnitas

Ever since we visited Arizona a few weeks ago, I've been craving southwest flavors. So naturally, tacos have been on my mind. Rather than doing the usual chicken or beef tacos I typically make to satisfy a craving, I opted to go the pork carnitas route. For these Chipotle Lime Carnitas, I let my Instant Pot do all the work of gently pressure cooking pork with the flavors of tangy fresh lime and smoky chipotle peppers. The result is a wonderful filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more...

Pork carnitas are probably my favorite filling for tortillas. The key thing about carnitas is making sure to choose the right cut of pork - only pork shoulder or pork butt will do. These cuts do take time to cook in order for them to be tender. For this recipe, I took a large boneless pork shoulder roast and cut it into smaller pieces. This makes it easier to brown on all sides before pressure cooking. The browning adds color and a depth of flavor so don't skip this step! After that, onions and garlic are sauteed before the Instant Pot does its magic. This recipe makes a good amount and you can use the pork for various dishes aside from the usual tortilla filling. Try using it in a casseroles, a topping for baked potatoes, or even serve it on it's own over rice. If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can get the slow cooker/crockpot recipe version here!

Chipotle Lime Carnitas
recipe adapted from Food

1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 pounds boneless
 pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 3-4 large pieces

tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon cumin
medium onion, minced
garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
sprigs fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
whole cloves 
bay leaf 
chipotle pepper, canned in adobo sauce
tablespoon adobo sauce, from canned chipotle peppers 
juice from 2 limes
1 cup water or chicken broth 

For serving:
your desired taco toppings

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper and 1 tablespoon garlic powder. Rub mixture all over the pork shoulder or pork butt pieces

Press SAUTE and add 2 tablespoons of oil. When hot, add the seasoned pork a few pieces at a time and brown on most sides for some color. Remove from pot and transfer to a plate. Continue browning the remaining pork pieces and transfer to a plate.

Add another 1 tablespoon oil to the now empty IP. When hot, add the minced onions and garlic; saute until softened.

Return the browned pork back to the IP.. Add the tomatoes, oregano, cloves, bay leaf, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, lime juice and water (or chicken broth) and stir. 

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 60 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 60 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 60 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 15 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

When the display reflects 15 (which is 15 minutes since the IP has beeped) all pressure should have naturally released. If not, turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

Remove the pork from the IP and transfer to a large platter. Shred the pork with 2 forks and serve in tortillas, topped as desired. 

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