Orange & Milk Braised Pork Carnitas

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The Braised pork carnitas is made from pork whereas barbacoa is from beef, usually from the beef cheeks, and it originated in the Caribbean. Carnitas are fragrantly seasoned pork cubes that are patiently cooked in lard until they’re crispy on the exterior yet soft and luscious on the inside.
Milk braising always seems to give the meat which I add a little extra succulence. The subtle sweetness from the orange is also very nice. When making your own you can strain and reduce the cooking liquid if you want, and do “wet” tacos by adding some of the juice to chopped meat.
What’s Pork Carnitas?

Carnitas is a Mexican pork dish that means “small meats” in Spanish. A cheap, richly marbled cut of pork, such as boneless Boston butt, pork shoulder, or picnic ham, is braised or cooked with seasonings and lard for several hours until it is soft enough to shred.

The meat is roasted at the conclusion of the cooking process to make it crisp. Pork Carnitas is a dish that can be served on its own with salsa and sides, or as a filler for tacos, burritos, or enchiladas. “Perfect, tender, well seasoned and succulent”, that is how carnitas should be”.

Orange & Milk Braised Pork Carnitas

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours


  • 3 1/2 pounds 3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 orange, juiced, and zested
  • 2 cups whole milk


  • Season pork with pepper and salt.
  • Heat oil in a large pot over high heat.
  • Working in batches, cook pork in the hot oil until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  • Return all cooked pork and accumulated juice to the pot.
  • Season pork with bay leaves, cumin, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper.
  • Stir in fresh orange juice, orange zest, and milk.
  • Bring mixture to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low.
  • Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is fork-tender but not falling apart, about 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  • Remove pork from the liquid.
  • Skim some fat from the pot to grease a baking dish. Stir pork.
  • Transfer the pieces of pork to the baking dish.
  • Drizzle about 2 more tablespoons of the floating fat over the meat.
  • Season with more salt, if needed.
  • Bake in preheated oven until pork is browned, about 15 minutes.
  • Turn on the oven's broiler.Cook pork under the broiler until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.
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