So, I've been trying for a while to mimic taqueria carnitas at home with my slow cooker. I initially tried a recipe that had you put some water in and then cook in its own juices, with seasoning; that was good, but it was a bit dry, and the seasoning all stayed on the outside. since there were multiple options for what recipe to use, I asked the folks at the tacqueria I go to which recipe they use, and they said they use oranges and milk. So I tried a couple different recipes with those properties, and they still only flavored the outside. So I tried experiments with submerging it in lard - an experiment each with spices smeared over the meat, then with them mixed into the lard. Still only flavored the outside. I tried using more of the spices; that was good, but it was emphatically not the right thing.
So for comparison, what I'm trying to reproduce - the carnitas from the tacqueria - is pretty subtly flavored, and notably, basically does not taste like pork at all. It pretty much tastes like milk flavored pork. Furthermore, it's super moist all the way through but it's as though it's moist with milk - when you cut into it, the runoff from inside looks like milk mixed with a small amount of pork fat. and it looks grey most of the way through, with only small spots of pink, whereas mine look pink in the middle.
My current hypotheses:
- they might be using a pressure cooker or deep fryer rather than a slow cooker
- they might be marinating it with milk
- they might be adding the milk afterwards
- they might be shredding it then cooking it further (seems unlikely, they often give me large chunks)
- they might be using better meat (mine is the cheapest pork butt/shoulder I can find)
- they might be cooking it in a smaller pot, as described as beneficial on serious eats (but I already tried packing my slow cooker with meat and nothing else and it was exactly the same)
- they might be using a completely different spice mix than cumin and oregano (but I can hardly taste any spice in theirs at all, whereas it's always obvious in mine, so they're at least doing something to blend it in better)
- they might be using more milk than I am (I'm using a cup for 3lbs to 7lbs of pork, they might be going as far as to submerge it)
- they might be using a meat tenderizer
- they might be cooking on a much higher heat
- they might be using more orange than I'd expect, maybe marinating in orange tenderizes such that milk soaks through?
I don't have any pictures of theirs, unfortunately.