Carnitas II


  • 8 - 10 pound bone-in pork shoulder*
  • 2 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
*or 6-8 pound boneless pork shoulder
  1. Cut the pork shoulder into large pieces, approximately 4-5 inch chunks. Remove excess fat. Season the pork generously on all sides with kosher salt and refrigerate overnight, (overnight is optional but salt and let rest at least ½ an hour).
  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  3. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sear pork on all sides until deep golden brown, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. If your pot is too small to cook all the pork at one time in a single layer, sear in two batches.
  4. Remove browned pork from the pot and use a paper towel to blot away excess grease. Pour in 1 cup of water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  5. Stir in chile powder, ancho chile powder, bay leaves, cumin, garlic, and onion. Return all the pork to the pot and add enough water so that the pork is almost submerged.
  6. Place uncovered pot in the oven for 3 to 3½ hours, turning a couple times throughout the braising process. Pork is done when almost all of the liquid is evaporated and the meat literally falls apart as you try to pick it up with a fork.
  7. Remove bay leaves and discard. Shred meat with two forks or allow to cool a bit and shred with your fingers. Discard any visible chunks of fat.
  8. If serving right away: Discard any excess braising liquid left in pot with a large spoon. Return pot to oven, turning shredded pork occasionally, until the pork is as crispy and caramelized as you want it.
  9. If making ahead: Remove pork from pan, let cool completely and refrigerate for up to a few days. Alternatively, you can wrap shredded pork in foil and then seal in a Ziploc bag and freeze for several weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in 350°F oven wrapped in foil placed on a baking sheet. Once pork is heated through, unwrap foil and let pork get all crispy and caramelized if desired.