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Mmm mm mmm…slow cooked pork (carnitas)

So, we started off Sizzle Cooks nice and easy for ya with the Mango Salsa….but what else are you going to serve with this? Well, I have your solution. Tamales!!! If you are planning on entertaining this weekend you may want to jump on this…I like to spread this out over 2 or 3 days. But it’s so worth it. Here’s why:

1. It makes a TON of food!

2. They freeze great

3. When it’s time to start assembling them it’s fun to get the family, or in my case,
hubby (aka, sous chef) to help!

4. Make yummy margaritas to drink with said company while you work

So before I delve into the ingredients…don’t fret…one trip to your local Mexican grocery is all you need…I want to break down the process in a nut shell:

Cook meat – 6 hours
Make sauce – 15 minutes
Prepare masa – 10 minutes
Assemble tamales – 1 hour
Steam tamales – 1 hour
Eat tamales – 5 minutes 🙂

This is a lot of lists so far, isn’t it? Keep reading!! I am going to break this up into two posts. To see how to assemble and make the tamales click here: Carnitas Tamales

Becky! Look at her butt, it is SO big!

So, you need a nice butt. I mean, if you keep reading my blog you may very well grow a nice butt….. Just kidding! I try to keep it fresh and healthy around here!! What you need is a Boston Butt. Whatever you can find that is fresh and looks good will do. A shoulder roast will do as well.

Boston Butt Roast

Between 2.5 and 3 pounds will work fine but feel free to use a larger one. Just make sure it will fit in your crock pot or Dutch oven!

Brown pork in cast iron skillet

Dry the meat a little with some paper towels (this is to help it sear nicely). Rub just a tad of salt into the pork on each side and heat up some vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet. If you do not have a cast iron skillet…SHAME ON YOU! Really really, you need one. It’s a must in the kitchen. Sometimes I dream about all the cast iron cookware I don’t have and what I would make in them if I did have them….ahhhh…

Browning pork

So, heat up some oil on medium high…enough to mostly cover the pan. Do NOT use olive oil because it has a lower smoking point and can catch fire since we are heating this pan up pretty hot. Once it’s hot, gently lay the pork into the pan. It’s gonna sizzle! Just leave it about 30 seconds to a minute on each side to sear nicely. The goal is to get a nice bit of brown on the outside.

It’s brown!

Voila! It’s perfect.

Tip: I like to use a cheapy set of metal tongs to turn and hold the meat on each side. You know, the kind that your school cafeteria served hotdogs with?

In case you didn’t know, this is the first step in braising. Dry cooking..meaning it wasn’t immersed in anything. Next will be the moist cooking…


Grab a head of garlic and peel several cloves. Maybe even all of them if it’s not ginormous. I like to use my nifty little silicone peeler. You just slip the garlic clove in…roll it around on the counter with some pressure until you hear all kinds crunchy sounds and then out pops your perfectly peeled garlic. I have a picture somewhere…I’ll find you one.

Another good method is to lay your knife flat on top of the clove and quickly smash down to crack the garlic. Then it peels easily but you will probably squish it in the process.


This next part is kinda fun. You wanna take your medium chef’s knife and stab your pork gently…don’t get carried away! In each little slit insert a clove of garlic. If the cloves are really big slice in half lengthwise.

Garlic inserted in slits

Repeat on other side of butt.

Ground Cumin

Now you need to mix up a simple dry rub for the meat. First, ground cumin. You can guesstimate on this…but if you must have an amount I would say about 2 tablespoons.

Ancho Chile Powder

Next, Ancho Chile Powder. Don’t worry if you don’t have this. I just happened to come across it at the store in the special order section and decided I’d try to find a use for it! You could substitute some regular chile powder with a dash of cayenne for the heat.


Throw in about a tablespoon of sea salt as well. Isn’t that pretty?

Spice Rubbed…

Rub the mixture on the now cooled meat. Rub it in good! All sides. If you run out of dry rub, mix up some more.

Close up

Look at that close up! Spices are amazing!

Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?

Now you need to make a sauce mixture to put on the bottom of your Dutch oven (or crock pot). And let me preface this by telling you that this is one of those times you can kind of dig around in your fridge and cabinets and use pretty much whatever sounds good. I’m starting with 1/3 cup of Grey Poupon in a bowl.

Garlic Tabasco

Add a generous number of dashes of garlic tabasco…

K.C. Masterpiece Original

Add about 1/2 cup of K.C. Masterpiece Original barbecue sauce.


Mix it up!

A bit more…

I found i needed a bit more bbq and tabasco…again, we are guesstimating. There’s no prefect amount we just need enough to the cover bottom of our cookware and the top of our pork.

Spread sauce in bottom of dutch oven

Go ahead and spread 1/2 of the sauce in the bottom of your dutch oven.

Spice rubbed pork

Plop the spice rubbed pork on top…

Spread remaining sauce on top

And spread the remaining sauce on top. (I sprinkled some extra cumin on for good measure)

Now we need to cover this bad boy with some liquid! Again, this is a time you can kind of use whatever you want. I’m going to throw in all kinds of stuff. Just keep the flavor in mind. Also remember that this pork is going to have a much more mild flavor in the end than this liquid we are about to mix up.

White Wine

I dug through my kitchen and found some white wine…

Red Wine

Some red wine…

Margarita Mix

Some margarita mix…


And some tequila! Be sure to save some for a cocktail!

Marsala Wine

I put a tad of my favorite kitchen ingredient in as well. Marsala wine! This is a must in the kitchen. i will be using it a lot in my cooking…there are some really nice simple things you can do with this! Purchase from the wine aisle near the ports and such at your grocery store. Do not buy it on the aisle with sauces and vinegars. Those are nasty and have salt added. Yuck!

Fresh lime

Squeeze in the juice from one fresh lime.

Not quite full

So, darn. My meat isn’t quite covered with liquid. At this point you could add water or stock…but I don’t want to dilute our flavors too much. I added a little water and then I dug around the kitchen some more….


OJ…of course! It’s almost like a giant margarita now…

Blackberry beer

Blackberry beer…why not?

Now we’re covered

Now it’s enough liquid! I’ve made this recipe several times and it’s always a little different. Maybe next time i will come up with a real keeper. But feel free to try out different things to flavor it up!

Dried Mercado pepper

Now add one dried Mercado pepper (can be purchased at your Mexican grocery).

Dried Pasilla pepper

Add one dried Pasilla pepper…It helps to pinch a couple small holes in the peppers to keep them immersed in the liquid.


Now this is ready for the oven!

Looking good!

Leave uncovered and put in your oven at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes. (Isn’t my ancient oven lovely? Trust me, this is clean. I’ve scoured it many times…self clean…etc…I’ll get my dream oven some day. Maybe if I get a ton of followers on my blog?!? ;))

After 30 minutes cover and reduce the temp to 300 for about 4 hours. Then you can test the meat with a fork to see if it’s falling apart yet.


Look at that perfection! It’s so exciting to pull this huge bulky hunk of meat out of the oven and see it just falling apart…mmmm! Get in my mouth!

And it’s falling apart…

Gently remove all the meat in chunks from the dish with tongs. It will certainly be falling apart now and hot so be careful! I usually just place it on my grooved cutting board.

Pull apart with forks

Using two forks, pull apart meat in opposite directions. And sample some of course!

Almost carnitas…

Once it’s all shredded up you are ready to make it into carnitas. All you need to do now is throw it on a pan and stick in the oven on about 400 for approximately 10 minutes. You just want to crisp it up a tad. I would “stir” it up a bit halfway through.

Note: Use your stock from the dutch oven to make a delectable sauce. Just pour some in a small pot and heat to boil on the stove over medium high heat. Then reduce to simmer and let it reduce down for awhile. If you need to add some roux to thicken it up you can! Sometimes I add some tomato paste as well…I would definitely make some to mix with your meat for tamales! Just keep tasting and adjusting till you like it.


Tequila Lime Carnitas for Tamales

Printable Recipe


2 tbs vegetable oil
2.5 – 3 lb. pork butt or shoulder roast
1 whole head of garlic
2 tbs ancho chile powder
2 tbs ground cumin, plus a little extra if you want!
1 tbs sea salt
1/3 cup Grey Poupon
1/2 cup K.C. Masterpiece Original
6-10 dashes garlic tabasco
margarita mix          *all of these liquids can be used or just some..or different ones
1 fresh lime
1 dried mercado
1 dried pasilla

Heat vegetable oil in cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Dry pork with paper towels and rub with just a little bit of salt. Gently place in skillet for about 30-45 seconds. Turn over with tongs and repeat until all sides are brown and slightly seared. Remove from pan and let rest on a plate.

Heat oven to 450. In a small bowl combine chile powder, cumin, and salt. Let the meat continue to cool and peel the whole head of garlic. Gently make slits in pork and insert peeled garlic cloves. Flip and repeat on other side. Rub all over with dry spice mixture.

In the same small bowl (now empty) combine mustard, bbq sauce, and tabasco. Spread half of the mixture on the bottom of your dutch oven or crock pot. Place meat on top and spread remaining sauce on top.

Mix up liquids and squeeze fresh lime juice add to pot. Add more if needed so pork is covered. Add peppers.

Place in oven uncovered for half an hour. Cover, reduce to 300, and wait 4 hours. After 4 hours carefully remove dutch oven and check meat with a fork. If it’s not really easy to pull off a chunk with your fork put back in oven at 30 minute intervals until it’s falling apart.

Remove pork carefully with tongs and place on your cutting board. Shred meat using two forks. Once shredded, place back in oven at 400 for about 10 minutes “stirring” up pork halfway through.

Use to stuff tamales, burritos, tacos, salads, etc.

Note: Use your stock from the dutch oven to make a delectable sauce. Just pour some in a small pot and heat to boil on the stove over medium high heat. Then reduce to simmer and let it reduce down for awhile. If you need to add some roux to thicken it up you can! Sometimes I add some tomato paste as well…I would definitely make some to mix with your meat for tamales! Just keep tasting and adjusting till you like it.