Carnitas with Pickled Onions

Ah, carnitas – those melty, tender, bits of pig cooked in its own juices.  I do love them and continue to refine my recipe. This version uses slightly larger chunks of pork shoulder than I normally use, then simmered in citrus juice until the fat renders and the meat starts to get all brown and crispy. The pickled onions are a common Mexican garnish and really add a tangy compliment to the meat.


2 boneless pork shoulder roasts (aka Boston Butt), about 14 pounds
Juice of 3 oranges (about 1 cup)
Juice of 2 limes (about 4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin

I set my Big Green Egg up for an 8 hour cook over indirect heat at 300°F. I used the plate setter with a trivet on it to diffuse the heat and keep the bottom from burning.

While the BGE was heating up, I cut the pork into big (4-inch) chunks, discarding any nasty pieces of connective tissue, but keeping all of the fat.

I combined all of the ingredients into a 12-quart Dutch oven, put the oven on the grill and let it simmer for an hour.  I gave it a stir and then let it go for another hour. I kept checking and stirring once an hour until most of the liquid had evaporated and the pork had started to fry in its own fat (about 5 hours).  Then I checked it every 15 minutes to make sure it was getting crispy, but not becoming dry or burned. Total cook time was just over 6 hours.

Pickled Onions

1 red onion, halved lengthwise, ends removed, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste

I put the onions in a saucepan, added just enough water to cover, and boiled until tender (about 1 minute). I remove them from heat,  rinsed with cold water, and drained.

I put the onions in a plastic container, added the lime juice and vinegar, and seasoned to taste with a couple of grinds of black pepper and about a teaspoon of kosher salt. I sealed the container and stored it in the fridge for about an hour before serving.

2 thoughts on “Carnitas with Pickled Onions”

  1. Love the orange and cumin in this recipe. Bookmarking this one. I’m also loving all the pickled veggies and fruit I’m seeing. I’ve never pickled anything but pickles! I’m going to have to get on board.

    1. Thanks! The onions are very tasty and took less that 10 minutes to make – definitely worth the time. when you get those down, try escabeche – pickled jalapeños and other veggies. Makes a great appetizer.

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