This recipe for Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) is tender meat slow cooked with citrus and spices, then broiled to crispy perfection. It’s a perfect taco filling and tastes even better if it’s made a day in advance.
I am a huge proponent of meal planning. When deciding what to make for a particular week I look to see what our plans are for each day. For example, if we have a play date scheduled for 4:00, clearly I can’t make something with an hour cook time if I want to feed the girls at their preferred dinner time of 5:30. While I love the concept and taste of foods that have been cooking for hours, it’s not always feasible for a weekday. Yes, I am aware of the crockpot but I never have much success with mine. Anyways, what I love about this pork carnitas recipe is that you can make it a day in advance. I make it on a Sunday when my husband is around to entertain the kids and it is so freeing to have Monday’s dinner already cooked and waiting in the fridge.
This Mexican pulled pork takes about 3 hours to cook so plan accordingly. There’s not a ton of prep work and the ingredient list is pretty minimal; you’re really just waiting for your oven to do its magic as the pork slowly transforms into something tender and succulent.
You can use pork butt or boneless pork country ribs for this recipe. Both cuts are well marbled and are from the shoulder area of the pig. I tend to use the pork country ribs because they’re really inexpensive and they’re already cut into strips which makes it even easier to cut the meat into cubes for the recipe. You basically just brown the meat, add in some herbs, aromatics and oranges and then wait.
Now, you can absolutely serve this meat on the day you make it. But it does get better when it sits overnight in the braising liquid. When I make this pork carnitas recipe I set up a taco bar with my easy Mexican pinto beans and rice, taco shells and tortillas, olives, sour cream, pico de gallo, lettuce, shredded cheese and guacamole. Then everyone makes their own creations. It is awesome for your picky eaters because they are in total control of their own meal. I can almost assure you that if you make a taco bar for your family, there will be no complaints. Or less complaints than usual!
Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
- 4 pound boneless pork butt or boneless country ribs , fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons canola oil or other vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 onion , peeled and quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 medium orange , quartered and juiced (keep the rinds)
- Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat to 300 degrees. Heat a large pot over medium heat, add oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown it in batches. Transfer the browned meat to a plate.
- After all the meat is browned, combine the meat with the rest of the ingredients in the pot, including the orange rinds. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered. Once it simmers, cover pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook until the meat falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 3 hours.
- Transfer the meat to a 9x13 dish. Degrease the braising liquid by skimming with a large spoon or using a fat separator. Pour the remaining liquid over the meat. Cover the dish with foil and transfer to the fridge; chill overnight.
- The next day preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dish from the fridge. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes or until juices are bubbling. Switch the oven to broil. The meat needs to broil for about 6-8 minutes, until the top is well browned and slightly crisp. Taste and add additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately with your favorite mexican fixings.
Recipe NotesFreeze It: This recipe makes a lot of servings. After the meat has gone through the initial braise, you can portion off some of it for the freezer. I freeze the meat in a resealable bag. When you're ready to use the meat, thaw it in the fridge and then proceed with the broiling step of the recipe.
I think the calorie estimate here is too high, it doesn't take into account the grease removed from the braising liquid. I can't figure out exactly how to account for that. I figured you'd rather have a ballpark estimate on the nutritional stats rather than nothing at all.