The ZXD Recipe Collection

Holiday Carnitas

This is a recipe that reminds me of home. There are many ways to slow cook “carnitas” but this one is special because of the flavors it brings back from growing up in Mexico.


  • 1 lb pork rib shoulder preferably with bone-in
  • 5–6 oranges, Valencia are best. Navel also works. Should have enough fresh OJ to cover the meat.
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cane sugar, preferably raw or unbleached
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro — stalks are ok
  • 1 large shallot minced
  • 1 or 2 chiles campana (they are hot so 2 will make it extra spicy)
  • 1 red jalapeño
  • Olive oil or butter to cover the bottom of the dutch oven
  • Loads of patience (that’s the hard part)


Start at low heat the dutch oven or slow cooker. Not too low not medium (somewhere in between) Add oil or butter. Once it is hot add the minced shallot in, if it browns start again. Should be bubbly. Add the pork pieces, no need to cut them unless they don't fit in (meat eventually will pull apart by itself). Sprinkle meat from the top with salt, sugar, and pepper. Cover meat with the fresh-squeezed OJ, add apple cider vinegar, cilantro, and the rest of the ingredients. Cover. Every hour make sure you ladle in the juices, you should see it reducing. It is important that the heat is not too hot or else the meat will harden. Cook for 4 hours check if the meat is pulling apart by itself - at that point, you want to start monitoring meat until it does pull apart. Anywhere from 4-6 hrs is how long it takes for the meat to melt. YUM.

If you would like to turn this into taquitos:

  • Make sure you have street style size tortillas (corn) they shouldn't be the yellow kind.
  • Chopped purple onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Green Tomatillo salsa
  • Avocado
  • Heat tortillas on fire - they should brown or get a bit of a charcoal burn
  • Add carnitas to your tortilla, dress with the above finish with lime juice.

Then you have Mercadito style tacos 🌮 it will be messy — best to have a plate around.