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The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen-A Cookbook by Shannon Bard

Recipe Road Test: "The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen" Carnitas de PuercoI didn’t have carnitas until I was in my mid-twenties but it’s been a regular in my crockpot ever since–well, until now.  There are a lot of really good dishes in The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen (it topped our Best Cookbooks of the Month list in February) but the Carnitas de Puerco recipe put my slow cooker version to shame…

Carnitas de Puerco is an ideal weekend dish since you are really just putting all the ingredients together and then letting it go on the stove for a couple hours where it smells amazing. The night I made this recipe I served it as a filling for tacos and everyone stuffed themselves with second helpings.  Not only that, but for the first time I can remember, I had a REQUEST for leftovers the next night.  I almost fell over. On day 2, served over Mexican rice, the pork had lost none of it’s juiciness and was possibly even more delicious. 

Author and chef Shannon Bard was kind enough to share the Carnitas de Puerco recipe and photo from The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen below.  I failed to take a picture of either of my carnitas dishes due only to my hurry to get eating.  Cinco de Mayo is coming up and this is definitely on my menu along with some of Bard’s margaritas from the book…Recipe Road Test: "The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen" Carnitas de Puerco













Carnitas de Puerco

Carnitas are prepared in different ways throughout Mexico depending on where you eat them, but this is my family’s absolute favorite. Bits of pork are spiced with orange and cumin and simmered for hours until they become super juicy, yet delectably crispy. The addition of the sweetened condensed milk adds a hint of sweetness and helps with the browning process. The final dish is incredibly simple to make and completely wonderful. Paired with rice, the juicy pork makes an excellent meal by itself or as a filling for tacos and tamales.



  • 1 (5–6 lb [142–170 g]) pork shoulder roast (Boston butt)
  • 2 tsp (5 g) ground cumin
  • 2 tsp (1 g) dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 oranges, halved
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz [340 ml]) can Mexican beer
  • 4 cups (960 ml) cold water
  • 2 tsp (10 g) salt



  • Warm tortillas
  • Fresh Avocado Guacomole (page 169)
  • Salsa Mexicana (page 158)


Rinse the pork shoulder under cool running water and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Move to a cutting board and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces. Try to cut the pieces as uniform as possible, as this will ensure that the carnitas cook evenly. Don’t worry about trimming the fat as it will render during the cooking process and it is necessary to crisp the pork during the final stages of cooking.

Place the pork pieces in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven and toss with the cumin and oregano. Add the garlic, 2 of the orange halves, lime halves, bay leaves, onion and sweetened condensed milk to the pan and pour the beer on top.

Cover the entire mixture with the water and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce to medium and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for 1½–2 hours, until the pork is fork-tender and all of the liquid has evaporated. You will need to stir more often as the liquid evaporates to ensure that the pork does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).

Once all of the liquid has evaporated, transfer the pork to an ovenproof dish (if not using a Dutch oven) and discard the bay leaves, onion, orange and lime. Sprinkle with the salt and pour any remaining pan drippings into the roasting dish. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove the pork from the oven and squeeze the juice of the remaining 2 orange halves on top. Serve with warm tortillas, guacamole and salsa, if desired.

Note: Carnitas literally means “little meats.”

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Recipe Road Test: "The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen" Carnitas de Puerco
The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen- A Cookbook
Shannon Bard

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