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Carnitas with Rice and Salsa

By Jeffrey Saad From Moveable Feast Season 2, Ep.11
Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

For this classic slow-cooked pork dish, Chef Saad uses Mexican oregano, which has a robust flavor, more floral and citrusy than Mediterranean oregano. Don’t substitute Italian or Greek oregano; they have a different flavor profile.


For the pork

  • 2-1/2 lb. boneless pork butt, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil; more if needed
  • 1 large white onion, cut into fine dice (2 cups)
  • 1 medium jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 5 cups lower-salt chicken broth; more if needed
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice (from about 2 medium)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 large)
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. agave

For the rice

  • 2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into fine dice
  • 1 small serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup of long-grain rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt

For the salsa

  • 1/2 small white onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving

  • 16 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Hot sauce of choice


Cook the carnitas

  • Pat the pork dry and season all over with salt and pepper. In a 6- to 7-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil on medium-high heat until shimmering. Sear the meat, in batches, until it is a deep golden brown, replenishing the oil if necessary. Transfer the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
  • Add the onions and cook over medium heat, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the jalapeño and continue to cook until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the spices and stir until they are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the pork to the pan, along with any juice, and add the chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Remove the pork to a cutting board or platter, leaving any liquid in the pan. Using two forks, shred the pork and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, remove and discard the leftover reduced mixture in the pan, leaving behind any particles that remain on the sides and bottom of the pan. Add the orange and lime juice and the agave and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture is reduced to about 1/3 cup, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping down any browned bits from the sides and the bottom of the pan, about 8 minutes.
  • Toss the reduced juices with the shredded pork, mixing by hand to distribute it evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the rice

  • In a 2-quart saucepan bring the broth to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, in a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chile and continue to cook until it begins to soften, about 1 minute more. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour the broth into the rice mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the rice has absorbed the broth and is tender, about 20 minutes. Add the lime juice and fluff the rice with a fork. Season to taste with salt.

Make the salsa

  • Combine the onion, cilantro, chiles, and tomatoes in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  • Heat the tortillas directly on a stovetop burner, on a grill over medium-high heat, or under a broiler until lightly charred. Fold each tortilla in half, transfer to a plate, and keep warm under a kitchen towel or aluminum foil.
  • Distribute the carnitas, rice, salsa, and tortillas evenly on 4 large plates. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with hot sauce.


Recipe adapted from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.

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