Thursday, April 30, 2009

yo quiero carnitas

having been born and raised in the city of angels, i have quite an affection for mexican food. i've traveled to mexico many many (many) of times, even to the most remote and un-touristy parts where the food is nothing but totally authentic, and i have to say, mexican food is just as good in LA. but never did i think i could make it at home. until now. until i found this recipe.

it comes from david lebovitz. yup, an american pastry chef turned food blogger who lives in paris. i know!! when i lived in paris, his blog was my bible. and mexican food was a major craving. when i saw his recipe for carnitas, i knew i had to try it. and OMG, am i glad i did because c'est très bon, not to mention, so easy and now forever in my répertoire. merci beaucoup, david!

the cut of meat you will need is pork shoulder. i get mine at the local mexican market where it's fairly inexpensive and seemingly very fresh.

adapted from david lebovitz
serves 6 (generously) - 8
5 lbs. pork shoulder
sea salt
2 tablespoons vegetable or other neutral cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon chile de arbol (or ancho chile powder)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
5 cloves garlic, minced

cut the meat into 4-5" chunks, removing any excess fat. season all sides of the chunks well with sea salt. david's recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of sea salt but i'm pretty sure i used more.

in a large dutch oven or pot, heat the oil and cook the meant until very well browned on all sides. you will probably have to do this in batches. once they are brown, remove them from the pot and blot on paper towel.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

once all the meat is browned and all removed from the pot, add 2 cups of water and scrape the bottom of the pot to release all the brown bits. add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, garlic, chile powders and cumin. mix so it's well combined and then add the meat back in. add more water until the meat is about 2/3 covered.

braise in the oven, uncovered, for 3 1/2 hours. turn the pork a few times during braising. much of the liquid will evaporate and the pork will be oh-so-amazingly falling apart tender.

remove the pot from the oven and transfer the meat to a platter.

strain the liquid into a bowl. reserve any meaty bits and discard any other solids. the fat will rise to the top. skim off as much as possible.

when the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it up and put it back in the pot. add the liquid and return the pot back to the oven. cook until much of the liquid evaporates and the outer edges of the pork becomes caramelized and crispy. the time will depend on how much liquid you have left and how crispy and crackly you want it. just keep an eye on it.

serve with tortillas, onions, cilantro, salsa, limes....
the possiblites are endless!

bon appétit~!


  1. I would LOVE to know how you made (or where you purchased) the tomatillo sauce that graces these lovely carnitas!!

  2. These look fabulous! I've never had carnitas before, but I'm putting them on my list.

  3. those carnitas look so amazing! you're making me hungry and it's only 8:44 am! you have to tell me how you get those excellent looking photos? do you have a macro lense?

  4. I always wondered how they make that! What a process...

  5. luckily, the salsa verde is pre-made and sold in the deli section at my local mexican market!

    rob, thanks! i use a canon rebel xti. no special lens. i just point and shoot. most of the time, ok, all the time, i have no idea what i'm doing. luckily i manage to get some decent pics!

  6. glad you liked the recipe!

  7. This makes my mouth water...on my to-make list!

  8. i made this in the crock pot and it blew me away! SO GOOD!!!

  9. cat! A loooves carnitas...i will have to make this for him..he thanks you in advance.
    looking forward to our dinner/get together soon~

  10. Those carnitas look so tasty!

  11. I tried this recipe for Carnitas tonight. Fantastic. Great directions and the taste was amazing. Thanks!

  12. troy, so glad you enjoyed the carnitas!

  13. wow nice carnitas, sounds bizarre in some way because they are tiny but with a great taste.
    Thanks for the recipe.

  14. cool gonna make some this weekend. thanks

  15. hello i would like to read more about this interesting topic.

  16. Spectacular artikel, har det nästan allt jag behövde hitta. Tack för att sätta arbete och tid att skriva den. Fortsätt inlägg. Nästa gång ännu mer spännande saker.

  17. thank you I am making this tomorrow nigh and i cant wait!!!

  18. I have a question, can I use a shoulder blade roast? would it shred??

  19. Can you make this earlier like the day before and reheat in crock pot? Trying to put a menu together for a family get together and would like to pre do as much as possible.

  20. Wow! These are fantastic. I found this on Pinterest yesterday and had to rush right out this morning to get a pork shoulder! I finished them under the broiler and they are perfectly crisp and tender....they remind me of a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant I used to frequent when I lived in Mexico City! Thank you!

  21. can i use beef and get great results too?

  22. Can this Carnitas be made in a crock pot?

  23. Belgian Foodie1/27/15, 4:43 AM

    Your recipe resembles one I've followed using both David Lebovitz' and Marcela Priscela's recipes to inspire me. The result is always delicious and tasty. Quite easy and cheap to make!

  24. Very yummy! May I also add very close to the real ground cooked yet cheap and easy.

  25. Delicious, but I believe the pot should be covered, not uncovered, as the liquid cooked off quite quickly and pork began to burn. Otherwise we loved it!

  26. Tried these very good.
    Have you ever made these using chicken thighs? Wanted to try it but wasnt sure how it would turn out