Slow-cooked Carnitas With Minted Tomatillo Salsa

Slow-cooked Carnitas With Minted Tomatillo Salsa

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READY IN 4 hours 10 mins
PREP TIME 30 mins
COOK TIME 3 hours 40 mins

Presenting this amazing slow-cooker carnitas infused with classic minty and tangy flavors! Slow cooked carnitas are ideal to enjoy as a light summer or spring lunch meal. Addition of lime and oranges provides the recipe with desired tanginess, while bay leaves and cilantro provides essential nutrients. 

Carnitas represent a delicious Mexican reincarnation of pulled pork; their browned, crispy bits are full of aromatic flavors. 

Double your meal time excitement by serving it with fresh tomatillo sauce and flavorful tortillas; get ready to lick your fingers to get the every last bit of this special meal! 


  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1 T chile powder
  • 1 T Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 4 pound pork shoulder (also called pork butt - don't ask me why!)
  • 1½ onions
  • 1 orange
  • 2 limes
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds tomatillos, skins removed
  • 1 - 2 jalapeno peppers (to taste)
  • 1 large handful mint
  • 1 large handful cilantro
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 avocado, sliced for garnish (optional)
  • 12 large tortillas (your choice of corn or flour)
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges and halved


  • 1Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Mix the salt and the first four spices together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • 2Remove any layer of fat on the outside of your pork shoulder as well as any silver skin that is coating the shoulder. Depending on where you purchase your shoulder, your butcher may have already done this for you. Cut the shoulder into 2" pieces. Coat the pieces with the spice rub and lay out in a 13 x 9 x 2" baking pan.
  • 3Cut the oranges and limes in half and squeeze the juice over the meat. Burrow the squeezed orange and lime rinds in between the chunks of pork. Peel and quarter one onion and place it between the pieces of pork. Scatter the garlic cloves, pieces of cinnamon stick and the bay leaves around the pieces of pork. Pour the olive oil over the meat. Cover tightly with tin foil and slow cook until the meat is tender and can be easily separated with a fork, about 3½ hours.
  • 4While the carnitas are cooking make the minted tomatillo sauce. Place the tomatillos and jalapenos in a broiling pan and broil until the tops begin to blacken. Remove from the broiler, turn over and broil the other side. Some tomatillos may blacken sooner than others. Remove them from the heat as they blacken and set aside to cool, saving any juice the tomatillos have released during the broiling process.
  • 5Remove the hard stem from each tomatillo and transfer to a food processor or blender. Remove the skin from the jalapeno, slice it in half and remove the seeds. Add some of the jalapeno to the blender according to your preference for heat. I start with half a jalapeno, taste and adjust. Season with kosher salt and pepper and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate salsa until ready to serve.
  • 6Finely chop the remaining half onion and a handful of cilantro together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • 7When the carnitas are fork tender, remove from the oven and shred into bite-size chunks with two forks. At this point the carnitas can be refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • 8When ready to serve, turn on the oven broiler and spread the shredded carnitas over the pan. Place 4" under the broiler and cook to crisp the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove from the broiler, turn and return to the broiler for about 3 more minutes.
  • 9Serve carnitas with warm tortillas and garnish with minted tomatillo sauce, chopped onions and cilantro, avocado slices and crumbled feta cheese.