4 Mar


Wow — we finally found a stand-out carnitas recipe for a bright-tasting feast on a bleak winter night. Are you digging the torilla cacti, courtesy of my cookie cutters from a 1986 Arizona trip?

We’ve tried many carnitas recipes, and all were tasty but this is head and shoulders above with its herbaceous goodness. Less focus on citrus that, in our opinion, washes out during roasting, and more on the magic of savoury onion, oregano, thyme and bay leaf. Also, salt is key here. It seems like a lot, and we do skimp every time, but it’s also a lot of meat.



Made this for a dinner party, but while wolfing down leftovers the next afternoon, a revelation: Calgary-20130303-00569[1]

We should have served these open-faced, warm from the oven, rather than passing around separate bowls of tortillas, meat and crumbled cheese. Line a baking sheet with tortillas, and pile cheese and shredded meat on top. Warm in oven so they’re melty. Arrange two on each diner’s plate and serve. Guests can then pile on toppings: red onion ceviche, guac, sour cream, squeezes of lime, cilantro, hot sauce, etc. The tacos fold better and the melted cheese keeps ’em together.

Result: Three less bowls to clutter and pass around the table, and the melted cheese help the tacos stay warmer!

from Roberto Santibañez’s Tacos, Tortas and Tamales
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dried Mexican or regular oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
5 scant teaspoons kosher salt
5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
3 dried bay leaves
1 cup Coca-Cola

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Blend the garlic, onion, oregano, thyme, salt, and 1/2 cup of water in a food processor until smooth. You want this to look really loose and slushy, so if your onion is too dry, add a splash more water.

Combine the pork and bay leaves in a 6-quart Dutch oven or deep baking dish — make sure there are no more than two layers of meat. Pour the blended mixture and the soda over pork and toss well.


Cover the pot/pan and roast in the oven until the pork is tender, about 2 hours. The bubbling coke burns and blackens the sides of your pot — so avoid using your Le Creuset if you are prone to tears. We used our black ceramic slow cooker insert and it was fine, but still a bitch to clean. Above: we’ve also used a parchment-lined roaster. Clean up was a breeze but did add an additional 20 or 30 minutes to the uncovered crisping phase.

Uncover the pot and return it to the oven. Continue cooking, tossing well and scraping the bottom of the pot every 10 minutes, until the pork is slightly crispy on the outside and deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Remove pork and coarsely shred. We put the remaining liquid through a fat strainer so we could separate the onion/herb mixtures from the grease as much as possible. Then added the onion mash back to the shredded pork, tossing to coat.


2 Responses to “Carnitas”


  1. Wine Country Vineyard vs Beach Cantina | Saucy Cherie - April 22, 2017

    […] Sounds as uncomplicated and delicious as our favourite carnitas recipe. […]

  2. Behold: al Pastor | Saucy Cherie - May 8, 2017

    […] We are happy to report this recipe is another bulletproof keeper, just like our favourite carnitas recipe. […]

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