January 16, 2014


Carnitas on a serving plate.

Homemade carnitas are totally worth the effort! 

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We ordered our first half pig this year from a local farm. Our pig lived on pasture in an old orchard and ate apples, pumpkins, whey, and acorns. Our pig is delicious. I even requested the lard from our pig and rendered some of it recently. Since we have both pork roasts and lard, I decided it was time to make one of my favorite things at home: carnitas. 

I loosely followed the instructions for carnitas from Homesick Texan. I wanted to keep them simple because the pork we have is so incredibly flavorful - I really wanted it to shine. It did. These turned out really wonderfully. If you've eaten carnitas out before, but never made them yourself, go ahead and give them a try. 

I served ours with the salsa verde I canned last fall and some quick pickled red onions. They were awesome! I'm pretty sure my husband was in pork heaven while eating these and I must say that I impressed myself!

Jars of homemade lard.
My first batch of homemade lard.

about 3 lbs of pork roast, shoulder or butt, with plenty of fat
1 cup orange juice
juice of 1 lime
3 cups water
sea salt
2-3 tablespoons lard

for serving:
soft taco shells
chopped cilantro
lime wedges
salsa verde
sour cream
any other toppings you want, though simple is best

Cut your pork into about 1-inch by 3-inch strips, removing the bone if necessary. Do not trim off too much fat because that is what keeps the meat moist while cooking. You can always trim it later. Place the pork in a soup pot or Dutch oven and cover with orange juice, lime juice, water, and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Turn the heat on medium and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Don't disturb and stir the meat very much.

After 2 hours, turn the heat up to medium-high and let the liquids boil. Let cook for about 45 minutes to one hour. The pork will be very tender. Carefully transfer to a cutting board and cut into chunks, removing any excess fat. Heat the lard in a cast iron or other heavy bottom skillet. Carefully transfer the pork to the skillet and fry on all sides until brown and crisp. Sprinkle with salt. Serve hot in taco shells with your toppings.

Plate of carnitas with tortillas and toppings.


  1. It''s so important to know where you food comes from and that animals are grown and fed in their natural habitat.
    The dish looks delicious, love the addition of cilantro and orange juice.

  2. This sounds wonderful, Amy, particularly as the meat was so carefully reared. I haven't had carnitas but I'm about to remedy that situation. Yum!

  3. I love carnitas! These look delicious and I can't believe you made your own lard!

  4. Impressed about the pig order! That is awesome. I can't wait to see what you do with it. The carnitas are such a great idea!

  5. Oh my gosh I love carnitas! How awesome that you got a half pig and cooked this yourself!

  6. Wow you made your own lard and a whole half of a pig. You are really getting going and starting this new year off with an energetic start.

  7. Oh wow! Homemade lard! I am so jealous. Those carintas look so brown and crispy. They are one of my favorite foods!

  8. I love carnitas and yours look SO good. YUM!

  9. Carnitas are wonderful - one of my favorite ways to prepare pork. I've never made my own lard, but would love to someday. I envy you your half pig - I should do that sometime. Fun post - thanks.

  10. Dear Amy, This is fresh!! How wonderful and this sounds delicious and healthy. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  11. Don't think I have ever had carnitas....looks so delicious!
    Have a wonderful week ahead, Amy.

  12. I loved the idea of this recipe so much

  13. my brother raised and butchered 12 pigs this year and we've been having a blast trying all the different cuts! my mom even rendered the lard. :)

  14. My brother made us carnitas in a vary similar way not to long ago and they were fabulous. Now I want to try your recipe!


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