Carnitas Feast

The photo above was snapped when we hosted our friends Gabe and Dory for dinner while we were in Florida this winter. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing and I was so glad I had some frozen carnitas meat in the freezer. In fact, I was able to throw this whole meal together with things I already had on hand.

Making carnitas is one of my most favorite ways to feed a crowd; the meat is so easy to make and all I need to do is put out some warm corn tortillas and savory accompaniments. I’ve cooked a lot of roasts over the years and this recipe is my favorite one for carnitas type meat. It doesn’t include orange juice – gasp – but the end result is a deep, rich flavor. A chuck roast could be substituted for the pork if beef is preferred.  Or, you could use a whole chicken if the switch beef broth is switched out for chicken broth and cut the cooking time in half.


Pulled Pork Carnitas – enough for at least 6 people


2 pound pork shoulder or picnic roast

1 (15 oz.) can beef broth

4 cloves garlic, put through a press

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika


Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or get out your crock pot and set it on high. Pour the beef broth into a deep baking pan or into the crock pot.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, olive oil, lemon pepper, chili powder and smoked paprika. Trim any excess fat and remove any string from the roast. Rub the garlic mixture into the roast.

Lower the spice rubbed roast into the baking pan or the crock pot. Cover the baking pan with foil or put the lid on the crock pot. Allow the roast to cook for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is easily shredded with a fork.

Remove the roast from the pan or pot and place on serving platter. Scrape away any excess fat. Using two forks, shred the meat. Spoon some of the cooking liquid onto meat.

This is totally optional, but if you want to go an extra step, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. In batches, put the shredded pork and some of the cooking liquid in the skillet. Allow the surface of the meat to crisp up. Remove from pan and serve.

Serve with salad below and plenty of warm corn tortillas.


Lettuce and Cabbage Salad to Dress the Carnitas – enough for at least 6 people


1/2 red onion, sliced

1/4 cup plain white vinegar

1/2 head of lettuce, washed, dried and shredded

1/4 green cabbage, washed, dried and shredded

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, washed, dried and chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder



Place the red onion slices in a shallow bowl and pour white vinegar over them. Set aside for 10 minutes.

In a large salad bowl, add lettuce, cabbage, avocado, tomatoes and cilantro.

Being careful to reserve the vinegar, lift the red onions out of the bowl and add to the lettuce mixture.

Add the oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder to the reserved vinegar and whisk together.

Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the salad – enough to coat but not have the salad swimming in dressing – and gently toss.

Serve to stuff in tacos alongside the carnitas.


Fajitas Style Bell Peppers and Onions

Ingredients – enough for at least 6 people

Any color bell peppers of your choice, enough to total 2 peppers, sliced

1 yellow or white onion, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup plain white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon oregano



Place in a peppers and onions in a microwave safe dish. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Pour olive oil mixture over peppers and onions.

Cook pepper mixture in microwave for 5 minutes.

Serve with the carnitas as something just a bit extra to put in the corn tortilla…


And just for fun…


Click to Pin!


SoCal Street Tacos


So many choices… So many combinations!


Since I got home from visiting Jenn in Southern California, I have been trying to replicate the fabulous tacos found in tons of little joints all over her neighborhood. Since the weather is always 75 degrees and sunny, everyone there seems to be out doing some kind of exercise – running, yoga on the beach, surfing, hiking – and they all look great while doing it. The temperature is too nice to be able to hide figure flaws under a large bulky sweater, so the people look fit and lean. The food reflects that sensibility as well. A farmers market can be found somewhere close by every day of the week and California cooking uses all the wonderful produce grown close by. We had some kind of tacos every day I was there and they are nothing like the heavy, ground beef ones in the Midwest. Basically there are many protein options: chicken, beef,  pork, fish, or seafood. They are either seasoned with spices or marinated before being grilled or slow cooked. Then comes the choice of tomatillo or red sauce and which garnishes such as fresh salsa, guacamole, or cabbage salad to use; all the different choices remind me of a probability math problem! This post features my favorite combinations, but any of the meats could be prepared using any of the methods below. Likewise, they could be paired with any of the sauces. I’d love to hear about anyone else’s favorite! Enjoy!

Variation #1 – Carnitas – Pulled Pork with Tomatillo Sauce and Pickled Red Onions


To Make the Pork:



1 to 2 pound pork shoulder roast

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups broth – chicken or beef


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  If the roast is tied with any string, cut it off. Rub the spice mix into the meat. Place the meat into a 9 by 13  or similar oven safe dish and pour in the broth. Cover the pan with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 4 hours. When done baking, lift the pork out of the liquid and put on a serving platter. Take two forks and gently pull the meat apart.

For the tomatillo sauce:



1 pound or about 11 medium fresh tomatillos

2 tablespoons canned chopped green chilis or 1/2 a serrano chili that is seeded and chopped

a small bunch of cilantro, both stems and leaves roughly chopped

1 small onion chopped

1 large clove of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 cups chicken or beef broth


Peel the papery skin away from tomatillos and rinse them off. Boil in salted water to cover for 10 minutes. Carefully remove them from the boiling water and put in food processor (or blender if you don’t have processor) along with cilantro, onion, chili, and garlic. Process but leave some texture. Place the oil in a pan and place over medium heat until it becomes hot.  Pour all the tomatillo mixture in at once and stir constantly for 4 minutes.  Then add the broth, return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer for 10 minutes  – stir every so often so it won’t burn.

For Pickled Onions and Garnishes:

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To make the pickled red onions, all I do is peel and thinly slice a red onion. I put the slices in a bowl and pour in plain old white vinegar to cover. Some people mix in a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar to two cups of vinegar when they pour the vinegar over the onion slices, but I just don’t want the extra salt or sugar and I don’t miss it in the taste at all.  For garnishes slice some limes and washed radishes, crumble some cotija cheese, and include some cilantro sprigs.

Assemble each taco by doubling up two small corn tortilla and stuffing them with the pork and sauce, & garnishes.

Variation #2 – Carne Asada – Beef Steak – with Red Sauce


For the Steak:

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2 pounds of any steak can be used but the best is flank, skirt, or flat iron

4 garlic cloves, minced or put through a garlic press

2 teaspoons jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch of pepper


This is even better if you “butterfly” the steak by cutting it in half through the middle so it becomes thinner. Place the steak in a shallow container such as a 9 x 13 dish. Whirl the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pour over the steak. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature or 2 hours in the refrigerator. Grill over medium low heat for about 5 to 7 minutes per side, according to how rare is desired. Let the meat sit for about 5 minutes after taking it off the grill, and then slice it into strips.

For the Red Sauce:

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2 to 4 dried arbol chiles (These are very hot & spicy!)

3 ripe red tomatoes, cored and chopped

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups tomato sauce


Rinse the chiles under cold water and pat dry. Toast them in a dry pan, turning them over until you can see they are browning but not burnt. Take them out of the pan, and when they are cool enough remove the stems. Set them aside for a minute. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the diced onion. Saute the onion until it is tender, then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, oregano, cumin, broth, and chilies and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and transfer to blender or food processor. Whirl until well blender, then pour the mixture through a wire mesh strainer, and back into the pan. Add the tomato sauce, bring it back up to a boil, then turn down the heat, and simmer for 15 additional minutes. Taste before serving to see if salt needs to be added.

To serve, wrap the steak in a double corn tortilla, add the red sauce and garnishes of lime slices, cotija cheese, radish slices, and/or fresh cilantro leaves. Or  for Variation # 2.5, serve with guacamole and fresh salsa as shown in the photo below.  Great versions of guacamole and fresh salsa are in this post CLICK HERE on the Yates Yummies blog.


Variation #3 – Pollo Asado – Grilled Chicken with Cabbage Salad


For the Chicken and the Salad

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Ingredients for the Chicken:

1 to 2 pounds chicken meat

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Rinse and pat the chicken pieces dry. Combine the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic pepper. Rub into the chicken. Grill over medium low heat until juices run clear. For chicken breasts, I usually cook them 10 minutes per side – it depends how thick they are. I often cut into one to make sure all the pink inside is gone. Take off the grill and slice the chicken into strips.

Ingredients for the salad:

1 red onion

1 avocado

1/4 head green cabbage

1/4 head iceberg lettuce

2 tomatoes

small bunch of fresh cilantro

1 lemon

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Peel and slice the red onion. Place the onion in a small bowl and pour the vinegar over it. Let this sit while you are preparing the rest of the salad. Wash and cut the cabbage and lettuce so it looks shredded or in bite sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Core and chop the tomatoes. Add them to the lettuce/cabbage in the bowl. Chop the cilantro leaves and add them to the bowl. Cut the avocado into chunks and squeeze juice from the lemon over it before adding it to the bowl.  Lift the red onion out of the vinegar (don’t throw it away!) and place in the bowl. Take 1/4 cup of the vinegar the onion was sitting in and whisk it into the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add the resulting dressing to the salad and gently toss it.

To serve, place about 1/4 cup of the salad into double corn tortillas. Add the chicken strips and some cotija cheese.



Click HERE for super easy but super tasty recipe for lime marinated shrimp taco on the Yates Yummies blog.

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