Carnitas Tacos with Spicy Pickled Red Onions

26 Jan
Carnitas Tacos with Spicy Pickled Red Onions

Carnitas Tacos with Spicy Pickled Red Onions

Some days I go on a cooking binge. I can’t help myself! I suddenly have lots of things I want to make and eat, and yesterday was one of those days. Countless hours of dashing around the kitchen, every measuring device in use, pots, pans, bowls, sticky messes covering all countertops. But when it’s all said and done, I’m tired, happy, and full. And have sore feet.

I had two missions to accomplish yesterday: One, was to concoct a fancy dessert (not my forté as you know) from scratch for an online cooking competition using three required ingredients. (You will get to read about that next week.) Second, was to finally try my hand at making carnitas, which is a Mexican dish of slow-braised pork and then broiled up into crispy bits of yumminess. I added a third mission later in the game and pickled up some spicy red onions to accompany the carnitas tacos. Whoa! Talk about a game changer. My photos don’t do that condiment justice. After my first bite, I went back and mounded way more pickled onions into my tacos. Delish!

Spicy Pickled Red Onions

Spicy Pickled Red Onions

I did learn a couple of things yesterday during all this though. You really should use a cut of pork butt or shoulder that has lots of fat and marbling in it. I only had some country-style boneless pork ribs, and they didn’t have near enough fat to render so had to add a little vegetable oil during the rendering process. I also figured out that by pouring some chicken or beef broth over the pork just before the broiling process lessened the dryness of the pork since it didn’t have the required fat in it. Lessons learned, but it was still incredibly tasty! We have plenty of leftover carnitas for use in either more tacos, burritos, or perhaps even a stew or chili? We shall see what becomes of the rest of the meat, now won’t we? Now on to the recipes!

Spiced-Up Pork and Juices

Spiced-Up Pork and Juices

Carnitas Tacos with Spicy Pickled Red Onions

For the Carnitas:
3 pounds pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
Juice of 4 or 5 limes (about 1/4 cup)
Juice of 1 large orange (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon Ancho chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
Ground black pepper, to taste
About a half a bottle or can of beer
Vegetable oil, if needed
About 1 cup chicken or beef broth, if needed
Cotijo cheese, avocado, spicy pickled red onions, cilantro, and lime wedges, for garnish

For the Spicy Pickled Red Onions
1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
6 or 7 thin slices of fresh jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic

Add the pork, juices, and spices to a dutch oven and cover with water to just cover the pork. Bring to a boil, then turn down low to simmer for at two hours. About halfway through simmering, I added a half a can of beer. Why, you ask? Because it was in my hand and seemed like a good idea. Did it make any difference? I have no idea, lol!

Simmering Pork

Simmering Pork

While the pork is simmering, you can make the pickled onions. Add all the ingredients to a glass jar, microwave uncovered for 45 seconds, cover with lid, and refrigerate until ready to use. Easy peasy!

After two hours, turn up the heat to medium high and cook the pork for about a half hour longer, until all the liquid is gone and the pork begins frying in its own fat. Or, if your pork doesn’t have enough fat, then add a little vegetable oil at this point to help it along.

Crispy Carnitas

Crispy Carnitas

Once the pork starts looking crispy and browned, remove it from the heat. Add the meat in one layer to a foil-lined baking sheet, pour about a half cup of chicken or beef broth over it, then put it in the oven on broil for 5 or so minutes. Remove the pan, turn pork over with a spatula, then add a little more broth over it. Return to oven and broil about 5 more minutes. Remove from oven, and serve immediately over corn tortillas warmed up in a dry skillet, with cotijo cheese, avocado, spicy pickled red onions, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Carnitas Tacos with Spicy Pickled Red Onions

Carnitas Tacos with Spicy Pickled Red Onions

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!


12 Responses to “Carnitas Tacos with Spicy Pickled Red Onions”

  1. richardmcgary January 26, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    One of my favorites. Great plating shot, too. I am marinating a whole duck tonight to do a sous vide experiment for duck carnitas. I hope it works out as I imagine. 🙂


    • anotherfoodieblogger January 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

      Sous vide experiment, I’m intrigued! I’m looking forward to the post. 🙂


      • anotherfoodieblogger January 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

        And I forgot to say thank you Richard. Thank you, Richard!


      • richardmcgary January 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

        It will be after Stefan’s (Stefan Gourmet) visit because if it goes well that will be pert of dinner one evening. I can’t give away the goods until then. 🙂


  2. Kristi February 1, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    Haven’t made it yet but, after I make it as written I think I will try it with 2 changes to the pickled onions. 1 would to use yellow onions and 2 to use lime juice instead of lemon. The reasoning, I love the taste of yellow onions in my mexican style foods and line is also used a lot in mexican dishes. Also our lime tree has exploded with fruit and my SIL is picking and juicing them and freezing the juice like crazy.


    • anotherfoodieblogger February 2, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

      You are lucky to have a lime tree Kristi! Fee free to change it however you want, I always use recipes as “guideline” anyways. I hope it turns out great for you and thanks for the nice comment!


  3. anotherfoodieblogger June 22, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Reblogged this on anotherfoodieblogger and commented:

    I’m thinking it’s time to whip up a batch of these again this week, what do you think?


  4. Conor Bofin June 24, 2014 at 1:46 am #

    Lovely looking tacos.


  5. MealsWithMel December 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    I love pickled red onions and I love this recipe! I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award 🙂 For more information check out

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Carnitas Soup with Tomatillos and Chipotle in Adobo Sauce | anotherfoodieblogger - January 29, 2014

    […] and tangy. That is how I would describe this soup. I was pondering what to do with our leftover Carnitas when inspiration struck me while walking through the produce section at the grocery store. It […]


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