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This style of slow-cooked pork is tender and has a crispy outside from browning in its own fat. Make this a couple of hours in advance, or prepare and refrigerate the day before you plan to serve it. Martha Stewart Living, May 2008. Recipe by Lucinda Scala Quinn.

  • Yield: Makes 6 to 7 cups; serves 8

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2008


  • 6 pounds pork shoulder (butt or picnic roast), bone removed, meat cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water


  1. Place cubed pork, salt, and water in a deep, straight-sided 14-inch skillet. (Water should barely cover pork.) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently, stirring and skimming foam from the surface occasionally, until water has evaporated completely, 55 to 60 minutes.

  2. Once water has evaporated, pork will begin to brown in its own fat. Cook on all sides, using a spatula to turn cubes and scrape up crisp bits from the skillet, until browned and tender, about 15 minutes. Pork can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Reheat in a skillet over low heat.

Reviews (19)

  • Paintrli1 9 Jun, 2013

    This is wonderful and you just can't mess it up. I think the reviewer who said it was awful didn't cook it long enough. It's always tender and easy. Tonite I'm going to put it on a kaiser roll with bbq sauce or salsa.

  • floshih 4 May, 2011

    I cut the recipe in half and it turned out wonderful. Even my husband, who is Mexican and whose favorite dish is carnitas, gave it a thumbs up! I also tried a variation of replacing one cup of water with milk, and squeezing the juice of 1/2 an orange on the meat and that turned out great as well. It was a little more tender than the original version. It took closer to 1 1/2 hrs for all the liquid to evaporate.

    All in all a wonderful and easy dish! Definitely serve with some salsa cruda!

  • BRADLEYT2 1 Feb, 2011

    This is the Best recipe for Carnitas I did add 2 grated garlic cloves I added garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and s

  • pegyly 31 Jan, 2011

    I added a couple of teaspoons of cumin to the water/pork mixture which adds another wonderful layer of flavor.

  • Daisy_Duke 19 Jan, 2011

    This was fabulous

  • Daisy_Duke 19 Jan, 2011

    This was fabulous

  • JBG65 2 Nov, 2010

    This pork is great! I cannot believe how easy it is to prepare!

  • jennyrosem 14 Oct, 2010

    Hi! I'm making these today. I really want to compliemtn on your TV show. I don't watch the other shows in the MS sequence because they are often too unrealistic for me in terms of what I will actually make. Your show is spot on. Thank you!

  • girlgonegrits 12 Oct, 2010

    Just made these-They are exactly like you get in the Mexican restaurants-super delicious! I have one happy family tonight! BTW I love Mad Hungry!

  • BlueAngel0704 12 Oct, 2010

    I always order Carnitas at our local Mexican Restaurant. Glad to have a recipe so that I can make them at home. Thanks!

  • dosramos 11 May, 2009

    Sabe muy rico y es muy facil de hacer!!! para las comidas grandes es una buena opcin n n n n!

  • lbc420 7 Mar, 2009

    I think if the lid was on while it simmered then the water couldn't evaporate. I am trying this recipe this weekend. I'll let you know.

  • lovebeingamomof2 20 Dec, 2008

    Very easy and everyone loved it! -Even the picky Kids!

  • zumbagirl 18 Aug, 2008

    Do you cover the pan when it's simmering or leave it uncovered?

  • GreenKnitter 26 Jun, 2008

    Worst recipe I've ever made. I thought it would be an easy way to make something similar to real carnitas, boy was I wrong. Turned out rubbery and tasted rather foul. You'd be better off going out or using a rotisserie chicken to make the tacos. Terrible.

  • confettiguru 1 May, 2008

    I've always wondered how to make this. Excellent and Simple
    I used it for my best friends Fiesta Birthday Party Last weekend. Not a bite left over. I served warm flour tortillas, sliced avocado, shredded cheese and sour cream to go with it. Also Salsa.

  • louisj80 29 Apr, 2008

    I made the taco bar last night for dinner and it was very easy! I am a vegetarian but my family loved the carnitas! They practically cooked themselves. The roasted tomato salsa was a different change from our usual salsa.

  • confettiguru 24 Apr, 2008

    I'm throwing a Fiesta Theme Party this weekend for my best friends 60th Birthday
    I'm adding this to the menu

  • girlgonegrits 16 Apr, 2008

    Thank you so much for this technique, I have always wanted to know the secret to one of my favorite dishes. Now that I know this technique I am going to play around with the flavors add cumin and chili's maybe some garlic. It came out exactly as the show. My family loved it I will be making this as a regular taco filling now.

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