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Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)

January 4, 2013
by Shannon Hepburn

There are several reasons to love this recipe: you don’t have to brown the meat before you braise it (less splatter & mess), pork butt is a relatively cheap cut of meat (the butt is actually the shoulder), this dish is not over spiced so you can really taste the delicious flavor of the pork and the roast is cut into small chunks so it only takes 2 hours to cook. Oh yeah, and it’s crazy good!

Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)
  • 1 3-4 pound boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium orange, halved and juice (seeds removed)
  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Add all the ingredients in a Dutch oven. On the stove top, heat the ingredients until they begin to simmer, stirring to combine the spices and meat. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. After the dish has been in the oven for 1 hour, stir it so as to turn the meat, and continue cooking for one hour more. Meat should be very tender and falling apart.
  2. Remove from oven and remove the pork from the dish, transferring it to a bowl. Keep the liquid but discard the bay leaves, onion and orange rinds. On the stove top, place the Dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid has thickened and is reduced to approximately 1 cup - about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Turn oven to broil and lower racks to near the bottom of the oven. In the bowl, pull each piece of pork in half (or shred it to desired consistency) using two forks.
  4. Pour in the reduced liquid and add salt and pepper to taste. Place the pieces of pork on a wire rack on a baking sheet (you could use cooling racks for baking). Broil the meat for 5 to 8 minutes on each side until well browned.
  5. Serve immediately in the tortillas of your choosing.
  6. Makes roughly 18 tacos - using 6 inch tortillas

NOTES:  I skipped the broiling at the end, making for even easier prep.  I served with sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, a quick red cabbage slaw and a green salsa, but this is more for a summer or early fall preparation.