Friday, July 20, 2018

Orange & Root Beer Braised Carnitas

by HomeRearedChef (writer), San Jose, November 26, 2012

Pork meat slowly braising in lard, root beer soda and orange juice.

The aroma of roasting carnitas seeping from your favorite Taqueria, luring you to come inside and eat, is enough to drive the closet carnivore in you wild with hunger.

Carnitas, crispy on the outside and oh-so tender and juicy on the inside, are often served as a simple meal with rice and beans and flour or corn tortillas. But more often than not they are requested in a Burro (or Burrito): wrapped within a warm flour tortilla with a generous spoonful of rice and beans; and when you ask, the additions of Pico de Gallo, sour cream and avocado. Why, it is enough to get you drooling all over yourself!

This tweaked carnitas recipe is done almost traditional. The meat is brined in orange juice and fresh orange slices, and root beer soda. The carnitas are then braised in a pool of lard and the reserved marinade, for a taste like no other.

Come; take a comfortable seat at our cozy table. Dinner is served!

This recipe will make enough for [roughly] 10 servings. Recipe may easily be cut in half.

STEPS 1 (24 hours prior to cooking):

1 cup boiled cider syrup (from King Arthur Flour), optional

2 cups orange juice with pulp (or fresh squeezed)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 cups root beer

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced

1 medium red onion, peeled and finely diced

10-12 pounds pork butt or pork shoulder, bone removed, excess fat trimmed, and cut into about 4-inch pieces

Into a large non-reactive bowl mix all ingredients well, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight and up to 24 hours. (Toss meat once or twice in-between to make sure all pieces have been immersed.)

STEPS 2 (day of cooking):

4 [about] pounds lard, more or less (enough to just cover meat when cooking)

Pork pieces from steps 1, removed from marinade and paper-towel dried (reserve marinade for later use)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 large navel orange, washed, dried, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices

Reserved marinade

  • In a deep, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat on the large burner, heat fat, to about 350 degrees.
  • Carefully add the pork pieces, immediately lower temperature to medium, and cook for about 15 minutes. (You want to see obvious bubbling coming to the surface, but NOT hard boiling.)
  • Add the cream and cook 10-12 minutes.
  • Add the reserved marinade and orange slices, carefully distributing well, and cook for about 1-hour and 30 minutes or until the meat is tender when pierced in the center. (Make sure you keep a light boil consistently going.)
  • Take the pork pieces out and place on a strainer to drip as much of the liquid as possible. Meanwhile…


  • Preheat oven to 475 degrees
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment and arrange pork pieces without crowding.
  • When the oven is ready, place baking sheet with pork in center of oven, immediately lower the temperature to 450 degrees, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and crispy to your personal liking.
  • Using two forks, immediately shred pork pieces and serve hot/warm with tortillas or alongside rice and beans or pasta.


Cook with heart; eat with gusto. Buen Provecho!

About the Writer

HomeRearedChef is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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8 comments on Orange & Root Beer Braised Carnitas

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By melanie jean juneau on November 26, 2012 at 10:15 am

You ARE a creative, natural born CHEF

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By HomeRearedChef on November 26, 2012 at 01:51 pm

And YOU, my dear Amiga, are wonderful to say so. Melanie, I so much appreciate your faithful visits and the boosting of my ego. Thank you!!! :)

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By souschef on November 27, 2012 at 01:43 pm

Just reading that got me drooling!

Now I really need to get something with carnitas!

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By HomeRearedChef on November 27, 2012 at 02:13 pm

You know what, Souschef? Me too! I need me some carnitas!!

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By TonyBerkman on December 04, 2012 at 01:08 am

I'm really hungry after reading your recipe and staring at the photo. I too need me some of those carnitas. Por favor.

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By HomeRearedChef on December 04, 2012 at 01:16 pm

LOL! Tony, you are so sweet to say so. Thank you for your comment, it has awakened my day! :)

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By TonyBerkman on December 04, 2012 at 01:48 pm

Do you use fedex or ups? :)

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By HomeRearedChef on December 04, 2012 at 01:53 pm

Tony, we have access to either one. :)

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