Healthy Chicken Carnitas- cook these in an Instant Pot, on the stove top, or bake in a Dutch Oven with only 15 minutes of hands on time! Great for meal prepping -make ahead on Sunday then turn these into tacos, quesadillas, breakfast skillets, burrito bowls or nachos during the workweek!
1 tablespoon dried oregano ( or a couple bay leaves)
1 can diced green chilies ( optional)
3 lbs chicken- boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs ( left whole)
If baking, preheat oven to 400F ( see notes for instant pot)
Heat oil in a Medium Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion, saute 2 minutes, stirring. Add garlic, turn heat to medium, saute 4-5 minutes until fragrant and golden and onions are tender. Add spices and salt, toasting for 1-2 minutes
Add water, soy and vinegar. Add oregano and optional green chillies. Stir.
Place chicken in the liquid. At this point you could place all in your instant pot ( see notes below).
Bring to a simmer. Cover and either simmer on the stove on med-low for 45 minutes or place in the hot oven.
If cooking breasts, check at 35-40 minutes, they may be done depending on thickness and size. Thighs will need the whole 45 minutes, perhaps a little more, again, depending on size.
You’ll know if meat is done when it’s 165-170F, or when it is tender and shreds easily with two forks. Shred the meat, then simmer gently on the stove until some of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 -10 more minutes.
If you like very crispy carnitas, simmer until all the liquid is gone, and/ or drain well, then pan sear in oil to crisp, or place on a sheet pan and broil in the oven.
Instant Pot Instructions: Use the “sauté” function and cook according to instructions above. Once you place the chicken in the liquid, Pressure Cook on High for 18 minutes (breasts) (or 22 minutes for chicken thighs) letting the pressure release naturally.
Turn the Instant Pot back on to the “Saute function” to allow some of liquid to reduce, while shredding the chicken with two forks. Reducing the liquid (instead of draining it) really concentrates the flavor back into the meat and keeps it moist – so try to go this route if you have time.
If using chicken breasts, allow the chicken a little time to “reabsorb” some of the juices letting it sit at “warm” for 15-30 minutes. Thighs do work best in the Instant pot– and tend to dry out less easily.