It must have been the subliminal beer and liquor advertising that got me, because I wasn't even thinking about Cinco de Mayo when I decided to make this milk-braised pork carnitas recipe. The milk braising beforehand seems to give the meat a little extra succulence. The subtle sweetness from the orange is also very nice.

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Ingredients

8
Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Season pork with pepper and salt.

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  • Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Working in batches, cook pork in the hot oil until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Return all cooked pork and accumulated juice to pot.

  • Season pork with bay leaves, cumin, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper. Stir in fresh orange juice, orange zest, and milk. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is fork tender but not falling apart, about 2 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

  • Remove pork from liquid. Skim some fat from the pot to grease a baking dish. Transfer the pieces of pork to the baking dish. Drizzle about 2 more tablespoons of the floating fat over the meat. Season with more salt, if needed.

  • Bake in preheated oven until pork is browned, about 15 minutes. Stir pork.

  • Turn on oven's broiler. Cook pork under broiler until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.

Chef's Note:

You can strain and reduce the cooking liquid if you want, and do "wet" tacos by adding some of the juice to chopped meat.

Nutrition Facts

325 calories; protein 22.4g; carbohydrates 3.7g; fat 24.1g; cholesterol 84.2mg; sodium 804.7mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (70)

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
05/21/2015
This is a winner! Perfect, tender, well seasoned and succulent...which is how carnitas should be. I used lard and I was a little more generous with the amount than Chef John's recipe. I suggest our favorite salad/relish to accompany this. Sliced carrots, thinly sliced onion, finely chopped jalapeno, and chopped cucumber and cilantro in an equal part of vinegar, water and sugar. The bright flavor offsets this beautifully! The only thing I would warn is that Chef John was not exaggerating when he advised a large pot. I used an 8 quart dutch oven and I had an unholy mess on my stove top. Use a BIG POT!! Thanks for another delish recipe Chef John! Read More
(21)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
06/29/2020
It was bland. Very disappointed Read More
93 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 81
  • 4 star values: 9
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
05/21/2015
This is a winner! Perfect, tender, well seasoned and succulent...which is how carnitas should be. I used lard and I was a little more generous with the amount than Chef John's recipe. I suggest our favorite salad/relish to accompany this. Sliced carrots, thinly sliced onion, finely chopped jalapeno, and chopped cucumber and cilantro in an equal part of vinegar, water and sugar. The bright flavor offsets this beautifully! The only thing I would warn is that Chef John was not exaggerating when he advised a large pot. I used an 8 quart dutch oven and I had an unholy mess on my stove top. Use a BIG POT!! Thanks for another delish recipe Chef John! Read More
(21)
Rating: 5 stars
02/28/2016
This was fantastic, though I have some questions...Are you supposed to add water to boil the pork? I just covered it after pouring in the milk. Also, O.J. and milk curdle. Is that what's intended? Read More
(14)
Rating: 5 stars
04/08/2018
I used double the orange because I really wanted to taste it and I do taste it. After extracting the meat chunks I had this amazing gravy left over I’m not sure since it has boiled milk in it how a body will react but it tastes absolutely delicious. Because I want to not waste the gravy I have decided to put it over a bed of rice and eat the meat on top. I also scooped off some of the gravy and grease and used it on some iron skillet shaved brussels sprouts. My wife will not stop eating the chunks of meat and this is supposed to be next week‘s lunches for me she won’t stay away she loves it so much! Read More
(12)
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Rating: 5 stars
11/01/2017
I really enjoyed the carnitas! But I did take the advice of some one else who reviewed it and made a sauce out of the leftover juices adding a couple of canned chipotle chilis and a tablespoon of corn starch to thicken. I simmered it all together for about ten minute and then I put it all in the blender. I got compliments about the carnitas and raves about the sauce. I'm actual going to use this recipe and sauce to fill tamales. Looking forward to seeing how they turn out. Read More
(9)
Rating: 5 stars
10/19/2015
love it!!! didnt have time so instead of baking used the pressure cooker. also added some garlic, just because we like it. the mix of milk, orange juice and the spices is simply SPECTACULAR. it will be on our menu from now on. thanks Read More
(7)
Rating: 5 stars
05/25/2016
I haven't made this yet but assure you that I will soon!! Reading some of the previous comments made me glad that I had taken the time to WATCH Chef John's video. Aside from his delightful manner in explaining the cooking process he gives tips or reasons WHY he does things. I won't be scared of the milk curdling a bit...and can use that bit of milk that is in the expired carton!! Read More
(4)
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Rating: 5 stars
10/14/2018
Everything Chef John does is incredible, and this is no exception. My only notes... 1. Having a certain size to chop the pork in would be good. In the video he says any size is fine as long as they are all the same. I did mine probably 3x3 but it was a little big I think. 2. The milk does turn into strange little dots. I tried some (I know, weird) because I was trying to take them out. They are creamy little things, like ricotta (this is actually how you make ricotta!). After baking, they dissappear. Don't worry about them! They probably help it crisp. 3. Oh geez... I can't remember. This is all lovely. Don't throw away the sauce it's made in, it is so good. Just make this! You'll love it! Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
03/23/2018
Watch the video. The milk and OJ definitely look pretty gross for a while. The end result is AMAZINGLY tender taco or burrito fillings. We added cheese and salsa on top. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
05/04/2017
So I remember what I did I'm writing it all. I had a 2 1/4 lb roasting pork, it was called, looked like pork shoulder without a bone and maybe filleted a bit. Took the noticeable fat off that was easy to remove. Used my 6 qt cast iron dutch oven, browned the pork after cutting into 1-2" pieces added spices used about half the oregano added 2 cloves chopped garlic, had to use mandarin oranges so used the zest from 2 1/2 (using my microplane) and juice from those also, only used 1 3/4 c. milk because I think I had a little less meat than the recipe. Cooked as directed until fork tender which from the browning stage until fork tender took 1 1/2 hours. I strained the left over liquid/solids and tried to drain a little of the fat off the top to drizzle over the pork for the oven, then added the strained liquid back to the dutch oven and added a couple spoons of blended canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to make a sauce (which is very spicy) which was great to add sparingly over your pork when assembling your pork taco/tortilla. I only did the baking in the 450 oven for 15 min., I skipped the broiling because I was afraid it would dry out too much. Read More
(2)
Rating: 3 stars
06/29/2020
It was bland. Very disappointed Read More