Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

January 23, 2010

Having grown up in California, I love Mexican food (and anything that takes 4 1/2 hours to cook had better be exceptional). And so, it was with these raised expectations that I ended my evening in disappointment. Sure the texture was great, but the carnitas lacked flavor. They were only lightly flavored with 1 tsp Oregano, 1 tsp Cumin, 2 Bay Leaves, and a little bit of citrus (1 orange and 1 lime). The toppings were not enough to rescue the night. Sure, they were still 3-stars, not bad, but certainly not worth the cooking time or the huge mess it left in my kitchen. Recipe is here.

On the plus side, the “Pork Shoulder Butt Roast” is extremely economical; only $1/lb. The few required spices were already in my kitchen. So for $5 I was able to feed my family for 2 days; when I make beef burritos (or chimichangas) it costs at least triple the price. Maybe next time I’ll try Chris’¬† “Spicy Mexican Shredded Pork Tostadas¬†(Tingas)” from the upcoming issue of Cooks Illustrated (already on his website).


  1. I accidentally bought a bone-in roast, instead of the boneless called for in the recipe. Not a big deal, I just had to increase the cooking time.
  2. Also I misread his instructions. He wanted me to cut them into 2-inch chunks before cooking, but I did it after cooking. Again, I think this just increased cooking time.

Rating: 3-star. Way below my high expectations.
Cost: $5 for 20 taco. (4 pounds of filling).
How much work? Medium/High.
How big of a mess?  A Big Mess.
Start time 2:15 PM. Dinner time 6:45pm

Recipe calls for serving as soft taco in corn tortilla.

The meat was still bland, but the extra flavor from the fried tortilla made the recipe better.

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