Slow-Braised Pork Carnitas, Pickled Red Onions and Pico de Gallo

, from Issue #44. August, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Slow-Braised Pork Carnitas, Pickled Red Onions and Pico de Gallo

‘Carnitas’ are pieces of slow-braised pork that are then sautéed over a high heat to caramelise the outsides, leaving the insides meltingly tender.


1½ kilograms pork shoulder, skin removed, fat left on (we use Freedom Farms)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons water

To finish
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
juice 1 lime

To serve
6-8 soft flour tacos, warm
shredded lettuce
pico de gallo 
pickled red onions 
guindilla chillies, optional


Preheat the oven to 160˚C.

Pork: Cut the pork into 3 cm pieces, leaving the fat on. Place in a single layer in a roasting dish and toss with the garlic, cumin and salt then add the water. Cover the dish tightly with foil and braise for 1-1½ hours or until the pork is very tender. Discard any obvious big chunks of fat. The meat can be cooled and refrigerated for 2 days at this point.

To finish: Place the pork in a large sauté pan, drain off excess liquid but leave 2 tablespoons in the pan. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and cook over a high heat, turning the pork frequently until golden brown and caramelised. Add the lime juice and let it bubble up for a few seconds. Season.

To assemble: Top the tacos with lettuce, pork, pico de gallo, pickled red onions, and coriander.

Fold to enclose and serve with a guindilla chilli. These tacos are also delicious with a spoonful of guacamole. Makes 6-8