There’s something about Mexican cuisine we really love. Perhaps its how Mexican cuisine is somewhat similar to Filipino cuisine with the heavy use of meats and rice. In fact, we love the seasonings of Mexican meats and prefer eating them with steamed white or brown rice over tortillas. (I guess it’s the Asian thing in us where everything seems to taste better with rice- lol.) With that said, pork carnitas is one of our favorite Mexican dishes. Instead of the traditional preparation, I made this Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas recipe and it was a hit! The Baron loves salsa verde so it was a nice way to incorporate it as a flavoring instead of a condiment…
Salsas are great as an accompaniment to chips or a condiment with Mexican fare. But using salsa verde in this recipe reminded me how great salsas can be to jump-start a sauce or marinade. This recipe is super simple since everything gets placed in a slow cooker and cooks away with little effort on your part. The sauce is so flavorful and has a nice depth of smokiness, thanks to the salsa and the cumin in the dish. Pork shoulder and pork butt are perfect cuts to braise and slow cook, resulting in tender, juicy meat that soaks up the goodness in the salsa verde sauce. This is a great dish to kick off the fall slow cooker season… and makes for a nice change of pace from the usual pulled pork recipe!
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning (optional)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 1/4 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bottle (15 oz.) salsa verde + more for serving
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus some leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Combine the tomato paste, salt, pepper, Sazon, cumin, oregano and minced garlic in a large Dutch oven; add the pork roast and turn to coat in mixture.
- Pour chicken broth and salsa verde over coated pork mixture. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 1/2 hours or until pork is very tender.
- Transfer pork mixture to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, and cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for 8 hours or overnight.
- Meanwhile, skim and discard fat from pan juices. Remove the pork from the dutch oven and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Pour juices into a sauce pan. Boil juices, stirring, until reduced to 2 3/4 cups, 8 to 10 minutes.
- With 2 forks, tear meat into large shreds. Add to sauce pan and stir in chopped cilantro. Season with salt. Spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Serve with tortillas (or rice!) and more salsa verde.
- Alternately, you can cook this in a slow cooker. Simply place all the ingredients in the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Chill, skim and discard fat from pan juices and shred. Continue preparing as called in the recipe.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
Keywords: pork carnitas
Preparing the Pork for Your Carnitas
Choosing the Right Cut
The pork shoulder is a crowd-pleaser, with its balanced mix of meat and fat.
A 3-lb (1.36 kg) cut should serve about 6 people.
Trim excess fat and cut the pork into 2-inch chunks.
Making the Salsa Verde
Fresh vs. Canned
Homemade is always best, but a jar from the store can also work in a pinch.
For homemade, you’ll need about 10 tomatillos, 2 green chilies, and 2 cloves of garlic.
The Spice Factor
Feeling brave? Add an extra chili.
Tips for Making The Perfect Pork Carnitas
Seasoning and Spices
Salt and Pepper
Start with the measurements listed, and adjust to taste.
Adding a bay leaf or a dash of paprika can elevate the dish.
Keep spices to about 1 tsp (5 mL) each for a balanced flavor profile.
Tenderizing the Meat
How Long to Cook
See the cooking methods section above.
Checking for Doneness
Your fork should go through the meat like butter.
Shredding the Pork
The Importance of Texture
Shredding helps the meat soak up all the flavors.
The classic two-fork method always works well.
Mixing Pork and Salsa
Combine in a pot and let them get cozy for about 20-30 minutes.
The longer you let it sit, the better it gets.
Classic corn tortillas or rice are my go-tos.
How about a Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas salad or quesadilla?
Nutritional Benefits of Pork Carnitas
A single serving can offer up to 22 grams of protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
Rich in Vitamin B6, zinc, and phosphorus.
Believe it or not, jackfruit makes an excellent stand-in.
Opt for a leaner cut and less oil.