Old School Carnitas


I have to say that I’ve been annoyed by the food that is called authentic Mexican today.  I grew up in California and my mom grew up with Mexicans.  However, she never thought much of Tex-Mex cuisine, even though she was born and raised in Texas.  Her Mexican food was the food of working class Mexicans; not fancy but plain, good tasting and filling, a cuisine that was based on both the availability and affordability of the ingredients; flour, corn, beans, cheap cuts of meat and of course herbs and spices.


I feel like beating myself up because in my youth I made Mexican food often and automatically, not needing a recipe, but following in my mother’s footsteps.  Unfortunately, mindsnatched by other cuisines, I made Mexican food and the foods of my childhood less often and have forgotten the way of making many things, obliged to go to my ancient cookbooks for hints.  Still, I know good Mexican food when I taste it!


It is difficult to find Mexican chillies here so I substitute with whatever I can find and that is usually Asian chillies.  The above are from Cambodia and I call them “Apocalypse Now” chillies. One in a bowl of chunky guacamole is interesting, two are eyepopping and three are for Thai people or others who “love the smell of napalm in the morning.”


I used a pork belly that I found in the freezer to make the carnitas but a pork shoulder or whatever would work as well, as long as there is some fat content.  Of course the belly cooked faster.  The spices you use in the preparation of the carnitas are really important.

Old School Carnitas

1 pork belly, cut into cubes

1 onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp coriander

1 tsp cinnamon

Water to cover

Warm flour tortillas

Chunky, spicy guacamole with tomatoes

Grated cheese

Mix the pork belly, onion, garlic, salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon together.  Refrigerate overnight.

Place the pork belly mixture in a heavy pot and just cover with water.   Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour until all water has evaporated.  Fry the meat in the fat residue until brown.

To assemble:  Place some carnitas in a warm tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and add some guacamole.  Roll or fold and eat immediately.

Wine suggestion:  Cote du Rhone

About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Mexican, Recipes, Sandwich and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Old School Carnitas

  1. trucvert says:

    It all looks delicious 🙂

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Delicious and not a Texan in sight 😉

  3. Food after my own heart. 🙂

  4. Looks FANTASTIC, Rosemary!

    And the line, “One in a bowl of chunky guacamole is interesting, two are eyepopping and three are for Thai people or others who ‘love the smell of napalm in the morning'” made me laugh out loud 🙂

    I used to substitute Asian chiles for jalapeños, serranos, and the like when I was in France too. Sometimes, you just have to take what you can get!

  5. vmukul says:

    Reblogged this on Food and Health Tips.

  6. All we can get here is Tex Mex. So depressing. These look amazing.

    • Tex Mex is not bad food Greg, it’s just food that has been adjusted to American tastes and lifestyles. Most “real” Mexican young people of this generation probably assume that Tex Mex is authentic Mexican food. No one’s Mexican mother in the U.S. pats her tortillas out by hand anymore as our next door neighbor did 🙁

  7. Very Nice! I promise my post was not influenced…

  8. sarahjane cartmell says:

    You have inspired me for brunch tomorrow! But im going for chipotle chillies.

  9. trixpin says:

    Lovely looking dishes! I’m very ignorant about Mexican food and would DEFINITELY need to follow recipes in cookbooks but it always looks so appealing (like your dishes here) that I should make the effort more often 😉
    I adore the look of the little dish of chillies – like a red flower bursting out of the bowl (or some blood sucking octopus 😉 )

  10. Oh yes – yes please! I’ve just been out for a lovely meal, with moules and vension bourguignon, but I’d happily tuck into this beauty, Rosemary.

  11. Amanda says:

    I love carnitas! Ive been in a homemade tortilla kick and this is just the filling for them. I’d even throw in some radishes which should be in season verrrrry soon. Great post! Muy bien hecho!

  12. KhoaSinclair says:

    Yum looks amazing. I love anything with guac!


  13. Jon says:

    Right on target with this one! Simple is best. Provecho!


    PD You conveniently avoid mention (and photographic evidence) of the state of the pot post-carnitas….

  14. Cecile says:

    Well I’ll be damned….as some old folks used to say! I never expected to see a recipe for carnitas here on your blog – and they look so delicious. (I’ve never in my life seen ‘pork bellies’ for sale at any market except for the U.S. stock market but I assume you’re able to buy them in France. That’s so interesting!! And – I’m pinning this recipe – for sure!!

    • Pork belly here is called poitrine de porc. But you should be able to find them for sale because in the last 3-5 years, they have become very popular. Try the Chinese markets.

  15. Conor Bofin says:

    Lovely recipe, story and pics, as ever Rosemary. The chili shot is wonderful. It says “warning! heat!”

  16. I love Carnitas!

  17. thechefcat says:

    Good one! Now I want some Mexican food.

  18. Hi Rosemary, I love Mexican food and prefer the authentic vs Tex Mex too. To the point where I grow as many types of chillies as I possibly can. Where do you get good tortillas in France though? Or do you make your own?

  19. Beautiful – I think I’d go for 2 chillies 😉

  20. yitzelruiz says:

    Reblogged this on dollcoronel.

  21. Curt Groen says:

    Out of all the “authentic” recipes I have seen, this is the first one that I have seen describe the cooking process properly!
    Thank you

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