Michoacan-Style Pork Carnitas

Carnitas Estilo Michoacano
Recipe from Season 6, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 25to 30 makes 10 to 11 pounds of boneless meat


  • 18pounds bone-in pork shoulder (skin-on picnic shoulder is a good choice, too), cut into 2-pound chunks
  • 1/2cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2cup salt
  • About 4gallonslard or vegetable oil
  • 1pound piece of slab bacon, cut it into 6 or 8 pieces


Lay the chunks of pork in one or more large tubs (I’ve used vegetable bins from my “extra” refrigerator in the basement as well as roasting pans). Mix together the lime juice and salt. Smear the mixture on all sides of each piece of pork, cover and refrigerate for several hours.

Set up a turkey fryer: fill with oil to the level marked on the turkey fryer for a 16- to 18-pound turkey, attach the thermometer (I always test mine in boiling water to insure that it’s accurate), and, if your model has one, slide in the raised perforated plate that will keep the meat from resting on the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat until the lard or oil reaches about 275 degrees. Carefully lower in the pieces of pork, but none of the juice that may have collected around them. (Add the bacon, if you’re using it.) Adjust the heat to between medium and medium-low. After the oil’s initial frenzy of having received the moist pork, it should settle into what looks like a brisk simmer when you have the temperature right. You’ll notice, too, that the temperature will have dropped to just above 212 degrees – the boiling point of water – indicating that the meat is literally simmering in the oil. Using a pair of long tongs or one of those large Chinese wire strainer/skimmers, gently move the pieces of meat every 10 minutes or so.

In about 1 1/4 hours, the meat should be completely tender, but not falling a part – start checking it at about 1 hour. When it is completely tender – meaning you can pretty easily pull it away from the bone – remove it to a large paper towel-lined pan. The carnitas are ready to eat – though they may not be as brown as you’re expecting. (They will, however, take on more of a golden color as they begin to cool.) To give them a richly browned exterior, raise the heat under the lard or oil and let the temperature rise to 325 degrees. A piece at a time, lower the meat into the oil and let brown – it’ll only take 45 seconds to a minute. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve. (Though I use the bacon mostly for flavor, I like to brown it with the other pieces of meat and chop it up for my guests to enjoy.) You may wish to pull the meat off the bones in large chunks, removing as much fat as you like in the process. Set out for your guests to make soft tacos with warm corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, and, if you wish, beans.



  • artisan bread
  • Guajillo chile sauce
  • Chipotle Mayonnaise
  • Milk cream
  • guacamole
  • Frijo rehash
  • Lettuce
  • Red onion
  • Pork Meat
  • BRISKET IN PASILLA CHILI AND TOMATILLO SAUCE CARNE ENCHILADAServes: 6 to 8Ingredients3 pounds trimmed brisket of beef, rinsed and cut into about 2-inch chunks (leave some fat on!)5 garlic cloves, peeled5 peppercorns2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided (plus more to taste)

    1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed

    4 ounces black pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed

    3 tablespoons corn or safflower oil

    1/2 cup white onion, chopped

    1 cup boiling water

    2 cups meat cooking liquid

    Chopped white onion and cilantro leaves (optional garnish)

    To Prepare

    Place meat chunks in a large cooking pot along with 5 garlic cloves, peppercorns and salt. Cover with water, bring to a boil, cover partially and simmer over medium heat for 3 hours, or until meat is very soft. Drain and reserve 2 cups of its cooking liquid.

    Meanwhile, char or roast the tomatillos on a baking sheet under the broiler, or directly on the comal or dry skillet or grill over medium heat, for about 10 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times. Tomatillos are ready when their skin is blistered and lightly charred, and their flesh is soft, mushy and juicy.

    Toast chiles on a hot comal or dry skillet over-medium heat for 5 to 10 seconds per side. Chiles will release their aroma and become more pliable, and their inner skin will become a bit opaque. Don’t let them burn.

    Place toasted chiles and roasted or charred tomatillos in a bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water and 2 cups of reserved meat cooking liquid (if you don’t have 2 cups, add more water). Let this mixture soak for at least a half-hour and up to 4 hours. Pour the mixture into the blender or food processor, puree until smooth and reserve.

    Add 3 tablespoons of corn or safflower oil to the same pot in which meat was cooked, and heat over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add cooked meat chunks and brown them, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the chopped onion, and stir as you continue to brown the meat for another 2 to 3 minutes.

    Incorporate pureed chile mixture and a teaspoon of salt. Stir and simmer over medium heat for about 10 more minutes. The meat should be completely tender, yet still in chunks. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, but not pasty.Taste for salt and add more if need be. To serve, you can garnish with some raw chopped onion and cilantro leaves.

    If there is any meat left over, you can cool, store and refrigerate it in a closed container and then reheat, covered over a low simmer.


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