I made that!

Dear Pork, I am in love with you.

Posted in All Things Pork, I Like Salt Too by brandi on June 28, 2009

Dear Pork, 

You did it again. Just when I think I’m (almost) ready to be a vegetarian, you inspire me. It was a day not made for cooking. Sunny and hot (like actually hot!), I had to spend the day at the beach, burning to a crisp. I returned home red and tender, not far from resembling a piece of jerky, and didn’t really look forward to turning on the stove. But there you were, so pink and porky. I didn’t want to slice you up.


But I had guests arriving. And I wanted tacos. Carnitas tacos. So into a pot you went, with some orange juice, orange peels, mexican coke, water and garlic.


You boiled for a while as I thought up ways to serve you. First we needed tortillas. Props to Pantea for dominating the tortilla press. Tortillas for 11 is no small task. But for you, pork, anything.


She made a lovely stack.


And there was a watermelon chilling on the counter, so we made agua fresca.


And then we caramelized some onions.


And marinated some radishes in lime juice and pepper.


And you just kept boiling.


While we roasted some tomatillos for salsa roja. For YOU, pork. You.


And then you did the most amazing thing. All the water evaporated, and you were frying in your own fat. It was so beautiful. I almost wept with love.


But it was 10.30 and the guests were getting crazed. So I started frying up those fresh tortillas.


And when you were nice and caramelized, we all stared for a while, admiring your loveliness.


And then I ate you. I’ve never felt so close to a pig before.


Yours forever, 




4 pounds pork shoulder, with fat intact

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice

3/4 cup mexican coke (has real sugar not corn syrup)

5 garlic cloves, peeled

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

several orange peels


– Cut pork into 2-3 inch chunks. Combine everything in a large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until pork is tender and fat is liquifying, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours, adding more water by 1/4 cupfuls if necessary to keep pork partially submerged.

– Uncover and boil pork mixture until the water evaporates and meat browns and begins to get crisp, stirring often.

– Cool meat slightly. Pull meat into bite sized chunks if necessary.

– Eat yourself silly.


24 Responses

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  1. sarah said, on July 1, 2009 at 7:03 am

    this is the best blog post i have ever read in my entire life. carnitas tacos are my favorite thing of all time, and i never ever imagined they were realistically do-able at home. thanks so much for this!!!! 🙂

  2. butter team said, on July 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    i am making the shit out of this recipe RIGHT NOW

    95% chance of awesome

    • brandi said, on July 6, 2009 at 4:07 pm

      ooooh…tell me how it turns out!

  3. Alice said, on August 4, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Any substitutions for the Mexican Coke? Just use normal Coke and add some sugar? I’m in Australia with almost no chance of getting that. Thanks!

    • brandi said, on August 4, 2009 at 7:44 am

      I guess I would just skip the coke altogether. Let me know how it turns out!

  4. Alice said, on September 27, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I didn’t have oranges so no orange peels went in, but it ended up tasting really awesome despite missing a couple ingredients. I’ll have to try it with the peel next time. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Kasia said, on March 22, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Greatest pork post EVER. Shredded pork soft tacos are my absolute fave! So glad I found this and your blog!

  6. Hadley said, on March 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

    So, instead of using coke, do you think you could just brown sugar?

    • brandi said, on March 22, 2011 at 8:08 am

      you could certainly try! I suspect the flavor might be a touch less complex, but I’d love to hear how it goes.

  7. Mary Jane Miller said, on March 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I am all over this recipe! Could you let me know just what you layered on the tacos.
    Thanks for the carnitas….they are one of my favorites!

  8. bbebop said, on March 24, 2011 at 2:19 am

    fwiw, this post was very, very inspirational! http://j.mp/iapHd7

  9. Christine said, on March 26, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Wow…I just made this yesterday. Easy and fantastic!

  10. erin said, on April 8, 2011 at 7:43 am

    100% the best blog post ever. But then, I too, am in love with pork. After all, it is the gateway meat. No better way to tempt a vegetarian than with crisp bacon…well, unless it’s one of the above bad boys. Mmm.

  11. Sarah said, on April 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Ok I made these – heaven. Really so good. I am so glad that I discovered your blog. Congrats on the Pantry. It sounds like it will be amazing.

  12. Lynn said, on May 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    We made these a few weeks ago. Believe it or not I couldnt find a bottle or can of Mexican Coke and we live in Phoenix, lol. Anyways I subsititued reg. Coke. The kids and I LOVED these. There are awesome, we had leftovers for days and I used some of the leftovers to make enchilades…YUMMY.
    We are making them again for Cinco De Mayo on Thursday and I havent got the Mexican Coke but I did find out that Jones brand soda has a Cola and they sweeten ALL of their flavors with cane sugar, I’m looking forward to the Carnitas being even better this time around!!!

  13. Misty said, on May 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    We’re making these RIGHT NOW. This recipe literally took 5 minutes to prepare. The house smells amazing and I can’t wait to eat eat eat these carnitas tomorrow and the next day and the next day!

    • Misty said, on May 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm

      OH! and instead of Mexican Coke, we substituted with Hansen’s cola (made with cane sugar).

  14. Hadley said, on June 2, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Just made this! I was in France when I asked about brown sugar, but I am back in the states and found some Mexican coke. It was great to watch it transform from raw floating pork to lovely, caramel colored awesome. We copied your radishes and onions, and made a really simple salsa verde from one of Rick Bayless’s cookbooks. My god. I am so pleased, as are my lucky parents. Thanks!

  15. To Start Afresh | CakeSnail said, on January 6, 2012 at 9:03 am

    […] towards Christmas. All too bright, and sharp, and distracting; with its experimental cookies, and the best carnitas cooked and eaten in a cabin in the woods, and the final unraveling of a cake so booze-soaked it […]

  16. Christopher benoe said, on October 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks for this pork’o’lishious recipe. I was comp,etly intimidated once I had all 5 pounds of pork in the pot, and it seem to never get past to the evaporated part…I do not think I reach the nirvana of caramelized pork, but it was a huge hit at my family dinner party today non the less. I also made the radish dish to go with it, and it was like peanut butter meeting chocolate form the first time…in other words , perfect.

  17. Jennifer said, on January 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I made these yesterday and they were fantastic. Both of my guests at dinner were originally from Mexico and they LOVED these! I was so proud and it was so easy to do. Going to make these over and over again!!!

  18. Ken Alper said, on March 10, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Tried this last night, and it was great. It didn’t crisp for me after the liquid evaporated (maybe I just didn’t cook it long enough), and the orange peels sort of disintegrated into the mixture (I picked out the big pieces and the little ones were delicious all mixed in with the meat), but it was still really, really good.

    In case anyone is curious, it took around 45 minutes, I think, for the liquid to all evaporate, and that was at a pretty violent boil.

  19. M said, on August 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

    This is my third time making this. I omitted the orange and it turned outlovely. Deep rich flavor. I’ve used pork twice and a fatty cut of beef. Always turns out fabulous.

    • M said, on August 18, 2013 at 11:12 am

      Edit: I also put in 2-3 dried red chile pods for star flavor. It does take a looong time for the liquid to boil out. Usually 30 minutes then the fat renders. Then I shred the meat while its frying and cook for another 15-20 minutes until crispy. About 45 minutes or so to get to the crispy stage.

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