Carnitas Chili and a Custard Centered Cornbread

If you’ve never ordered Carnitas in a Mexican restaurant you’ve missed out on some lovely, tender pork “pot roast” that is usually served with warm tortillas and a few garnishes. You then make your own little bites of heaven with the meat and accompaniments. 

Carnitas are super easy to make at home:

  • Cut about 3 pounds of boneless Pork shoulder into manageable chunks- about 2″ cubes, trim a bit of the fat off but leave a fair amount on.
  • Place the pork in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot or crock-pot depending on how much time you have and how much you want to tend the pot
  • Add enough water or stock to barely cover the meat
  • Add the juice of two small limes, a teaspoon of salt, a few grindings of pepper and about 2 Tablespoons of ground cumin and 1 Tablespoon of Chili Powder (Rick’s home made chili powder is divine- recipe later)
  • Put on the stove over medium low heat or turn the Crock-pot on high.
  • Cover and cook stirring often enough to keep bottom from burning until meat is tender- about 45 minutes to an hour on stove top and a few hours in the crock-pot.
  • Add 3 cloves of roasted garlic and stir in. 
  • If on the stove top, turn up the heat and remove the lid and cook until all of the liquid evaporates lower the heat when the meat begins to fry in the rendered fat and fry gently until well browned. If in the crock-pot you’ll have to finish it on the stove by transferring it to a large, wide, heavy bottomed pot and proceeding as directed above.
  • You can also finish the meat in the oven, uncovered in a wide roaster at about 350F for an hour, stir occasionally.
  • Taste and correct and seasonings to your taste. Remove the meat to a platter lined with several paper towels and let it drain while you keep it uncovered  in a warm oven.

Serve with warm flour or corn tortilla, salsa, chunked seasoned avocado or guacamole, chopped onions and tomatoes, rice and beans. Delish!

When you find that you have meat leftover and you want to make something more with it, let me suggest Chili:


  • Cook the leftover carnitas in a large, heavy wide bottomed pot until they begin to sizzle and re-brown- you probably won’t need to add any fat but if you do, use a little olive oil.
  • add and cook until translucent:
  • 1-1/2 large onions, chopped to medium-small pieces
  •  1 large green bell pepper, chopped to medium-small pieces
  •  3 ribs of celery, chopped to 1/4 dice
  •  3 large peeled, seeded and diced Hatch green chilies, canned are okay


  • add a palmful of cacao nibs pounded briefly in a mortar and pestle


  •  2 Tablespoons of ground, toasted cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon of chili powder (to taste if you like it milder use less)


  • Cook until vegetables are cooked through and fragrant
  • add 1/4 Cup of Kahlua  type liqueur (our friends Kaye and Chris made some delicious homemade nectar for us at Christmas xoxo)
  • add a couple of cloves of roasted garlic or a clove of fresh minced
  • salt and pepper, as needed
  •  a dash of liquid smoke
  • 2) 15 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 2) 15 ounce cans of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1) 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed  and drained
  • 1) 15 ounce can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained

Cook it all over medium, low heat for at least an hour -tasting and adjusting until you make it the way you like the taste of it.

Make some MAGIC Custard Cornbread to go with it:


Recipe adapted from Marion Cunningham’s recipe in the Fanny Farmer Cookbook


  • Preheat your oven to 350F
  • butter a 9 inch cast iron skillet or an 8 inch square baking pan and add a Tablespoon of Bacon Drippings ( I keep a jar in my freezer that I add to whenever I cook bacon.)
  • Place the skillet in the preheated oven while you mix the cornbread batter, but work quickly so you don’t burn the butter or bacon fat:
  • Put two eggs in a large mixing bowl, add 3Tablespoons melted butter, mix well and add 3 Tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of (at least 1% milk-fat) milk, 1-1/2 Tablespoons of white vinegar and beat well.
  • In another bowl place 1 Cup of AP white flour, 3/4 Cup of cornmeal, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, stir with a whisk to combine.
  • add to milk-egg mixture, stir just until no lumpiness remains
  • Add 1-1/2 Cups of thawed and drained frozen corn kernels, stir in.
  • Remove the skillet from the oven, swirl the pan around to distribute the fat evenly and pour the batter into the skillet. BE CAREFUL- Hot oil is volatile and can easily burn you. 🙁
  • Carefully pour 1 Cup of heavy cream into the center of the batter. DO NOT STIR.
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until browned and center is barely set.
  • Let sit a couple of minutes before you cut into wedges or squares. Serve with butter and a little honey.

Through the miracle of baking arts and sciences this cornbread makes a perfectly centered custard layer in between two cornbread halves. Try it it’s fun to make and serve to amazed guests. If you haven’t noticed by now- my camera sucks- it’s an old minus mega-pixel digital power-shot nonadjustable thing, but it’s all I’ve got for now- I’m saving for a better SLR Digital. So I guess what I’m saying is the pics aren’t that great but take my word for the fun! 🙂


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