Sleep Love Eat

{Citrus Carnitas}

carnitas-01There are a few different thoughts running through my head as I prepare to share this recipe.

  1. If you follow other paleo-style recipe blogs, you’ve probably already seen, fallen-in-love with, and are already addicted to this recipe. If that’s the case, apologies for redundancy, but now we have something to start a friendship over :)
  2. If you have seen this recipe, but haven’t made it, hopefully this will be the push to get you to do so. If you enjoy pork, you must try it once, so you can then cook and enjoy it 1000 more times.
  3. If you have never seen this recipe before, I am sooooo excited to finally share it with you. Jake and I have been selfishly enjoying it for about a year now. If you make it, you must let me know how it goes!

To give due credit, we learned of this recipe when we purchased the cookbook Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan (author of the blog The Clothes Make the Girl). Upon first glance, the recipe seems a bit technically overwhelming, but after cooking it several times now, I realized once you get everything started, it pretty much cooks itself! It’s a fancy-looking and super tasty recipe that’s much easier than it sounds.  I encourage you to give it a try.

The first time I cooked Citrus Carnitas, I was out of Cayenne Pepper (which is what Melissa’s recipe originally calls for), so I substituted Chili Powder instead. The second time, I made the recipe as prescribed with Cayenne, but found that I actually preferred it with the Chili Powder. Try it both ways and see which you like best, if you’re a curious chef like myself :)



  • 1 large, boneless Pork Shoulder (3-5 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup Lime juice (juice from 4 limes)
  • 1/2 cup Lemon juice (juice from 4 lemons)
  • 1 rounded tbsp ground Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp fresh-ground Black Pepper
  • Water
  • Cilantro, for garnish


  • Squeeze the juice from (average) 4 Lemons and 4 Limes. The goal is 1 cup of citrus juice total.
  • Cut the pork shoulder into smaller chunks of meat, about 3 inches across. Discard any areas of really thick, hard fat (we love ourselves some fat – the texture just doesn’t work as well for this recipe).
  • Create a dry-rub by mixing the Ground Cumin, Garlic Powder, Sea Salt, Ground Coriander, Chili Powder, and fresh-ground Black Pepper in a small bowl until well-combined.
  • Place your Pork Shoulder pieces in a large bowl, and combine with the dry-rub. Coat all sides of the Pork as best as possible.


  • Place the Pork Shoulder pieces in the bottom of a Dutch Oven on the stove top. Pour the Lemon and Lime juice over the pork.


  • Next, add Water to the Dutch Oven – just enough to cover the Pork. It ain’t pretty, but it will be when it’s all done :)


  • Put the lid on the Dutch Oven and turn the stove to medium-high heat until a rolling boil is achieved. It might look a little foamy…


  • Remove lid, turn heat down to medium, and allow to simmer with a steady, medium boil for 2-3 hours (length of time is based on the size of the Pork Shoulder). I recommend setting your timer for 2 hours, and checking the pot every 20 minutes from there on-out until you make it so many times you just know what size pork shoulder = time-wise. Should look something like this while cooking:


  • When there is about 1/2 inch of liquid remaining in the Dutch Oven, keep a close eye on the Pork. It will start to get extra-fragrant at this point in the cooking. In case you forget to set a 2-hour timer, know to check the stove once you notice the scent growing stronger. It’s like the Carnitas are talking to you. It means it’s time to pay attention!


  • Over the next 20 minutes, the Pork will begin to crisp and caramelize and become gorgeous, glistening bites of meat. Turn the pieces over for even browning and to prevent burning. Some bits may start to stick to the bottom. They’ll be the extra-tasty ones – just give them a nudge with a wooden spoon before they become part of the pan. Some pieces may start to shred because they’re just so fall-apart delicious at this stage. It’s forgivable.



  • When done to your liking, and when almost all liquid is evaporated, transfer the Carnitas and any remaining juice & flavor bits into a large serving bowl.


  • Garnish with fresh-chopped Cilantro, lime wedges, and serve.


  • I forgot the Cilantro when I cooked this batch, so please accept this iPhone image of a more recent batch adorned appropriately with freshly chopped Cilantro :)


  • Deglaze the Dutch Oven while still hot by throwing in a cup of water. The sticky bits at the bottom will loosen with the help of a wooden spoon, and you’ll be able to easily clean your pot!

See Melissa Joulwan’s original post and recipe here.


Happy eating! Joey


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