homesick texan carnitas

mexican food is probably my kryptonite. i could eat it every single day, for every single meal, and never even get a little bit sick of it. whenever i get asked my favorite food, i have a really hard time not saying tortilla chips, or salsa, or guacamole, or pollo asado... or all together, also known as a burrito.


i found these lovely carnitas on smitten kitchen's website a long time ago; i've made them maybe a dozen times by now. i love deb's blog, and if she can cook these in her tiny nyc kitchen, there's no reason for me (or you!) not to try. these pretty much cook themselves, but feign hours over the stove and please any crowd.

sidenote: the green onion slaw below is almost just as good as the carnitas. if you have the time, do yourself a favor and make it. it’s worth the extra work.


homesick texan carnitas | via smitten kitchen

ingredients | serves a group of very hungry people, or a bigger group of moderately hungry people, or two people with a ton of leftovers

for the pork:

  • 3lbs boneless pork shoulder (also known as pork butt), cut into 2 inch cubes

  • 1/2 cup orange juice

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (about 2-3 limes)

  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • salt & pepper to taste

for the green onion slaw:

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green onion

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped

  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain greek yogurt

  • tiny pinch of fine sugar

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 3 cups shredded red cabbage

  • 1 small red onion, chopped

  • chopped cilantro to taste

  • salt & pepper to taste

for serving:

  • corn tortillas (or flour if that’s your thing)
  • green onion slaw (recipe below)
  • sour cream
  • avocado
  • tomatoes
  • cilantro
  • anything but the kitchen sink, pretty much

instructions - pork

  1. trim your pork of the “bad fat” (this is the white, hard fat - keep the white, soft stuff - it will cook down over time) and cut your pork into two inch cubes.

  2. place pork into your dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed pot (for the record - i’ve done both, and they both work, but dutch ovens are a better choice between the two.) add the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and just enough water to barely cover the pork. 

  3. bring your dutch oven to a boil and then lower to a simmer. simmer for two hours; don’t touch your meat. (sometimes, my liquid will reduce faster than the two hours - if this happens, turn down your heat and just add some more water and a little more OJ. the meat needs those full two hours to get tender.)

  4. after two hours, increase the heat to medium-high and continue to cook until liquid is reduced, occasionally stirring. this can take anywhere from 20-30 minutes. during this time, i’ll make the green onion slaw.

  5. once the liquid is reduced, let the pork sizzle in the remaining fat and brown on both sides. it should be falling apart pretty easily and only take a few minutes.

  6. once it’s browned on both sides, you’re all done with the pork!

instructions - green onion slaw

  1. combine green onions, red wine vinegar, jalapeño, greek yogurt, pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a blender. (i use my nutribullet for this! works like a charm.)

  2. place cabbage and onion in a bowl; toss dressing to combine and add cilantro and additional salt & pepper if needed.

instructions - serving

  1. warm your tortillas (flour or corn) in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

  2. spread a little sour cream on one side each tortilla. this will help the carnitas stick to something (pro tip!)

  3. fill your tortillas with the carnitas - don’t fill it up too much, or the toppings won’t fit!

  4. top next with green onion slaw, then tomatoes, chopped cilantro, pickled jalapeños, and finally a scoop of avocado.

i know this looks like a lot of work, but it’s deceiving, i promise. i remember making this and feeling like i conquered the world - little old me, making carnitas that are this amazing? it's pretty empowering. you too will feel it as soon as you take your first bite.

til next time!

xoxo, #chefhaley