Skinny Pork Carnitas

Skinny Pork Carnitas |

I think it’s clear by now that I’m on a Mexican food kick lately. Heck, it’s not just lately it’s always been that way. But, as much as I love Latin-based foods, I don’t always love all the calories that generally accompany it. Pork carnitas is one of my favorite dishes and is traditionally made with heavily marbled pork butt roast. The high fat ratio in the meat makes for marvelously tender, flavorful meat while simultaneously enlarging my derriere in an exponential fashion. <– So not cool.

So I decided to use a leaner cut of meat, add tons flavor and try to make a skinny version of my favorite. The result? Tender, savory meat that won’t leave it’s mark on your thighs if you have an extra taco. There will always be a place in my heart and diet for traditional carnitas but these do just fine for satisfying my cravings when I’m trying to watch what I eat.

You’ll start by cutting a top pork loin roast into 1-2 inch chunks, seasoning with salt and browning them in a couple of tablespoons of oil until nicely browned and caramelized on most sides. You might have to cook the meat in batches to get a nice color on them.

Skinny Pork Carnitas |

Once all the meat is browned you’ll be left with a pan that has delicious carmelized bits all over the bottom and this is where your flavor is at. Stir in a cup and a half of chicken broth, bring to a simmer, and scrape the bottom of the pan until it’s clean.

Skinny Pork Carnitas |

Return the meat to the pan and season with ground cumin, smoked paprika, a chopped onion, and 1/2 C of salsa verde.

Skinny Pork Carnitas |

I use salsa verde alot and La Costena is my favorite. It’s one of the few that is not too spicy for my girls and it comes in a jar or a small can so I can have as much or little as I need. If you use a different brand be aware that some are burn-your-face-off-hot (at least to me and my weak little mouth).

Skinny Pork Carnitas |

Place the pan of meat covered in a 325 degree oven for about 2 hours until the pork shreds easily with a fork.

Skinny Pork Carnitas |

At this point, remove the cover turn up the heat to 400 and let cook for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency and the pork is browned on top.

Skinny Pork Carnitas |

Shred the pork and stir into the cooking liquid. Serve with tortillas and rice and beans.

Skinny Pork Carnitas |

Skinny Pork Carnitas
  • 2 lbs top pork loin, cut into 1-2 " pieces
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1½ C chicken broth
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ C salsa verde
  1. Heat oil over med-high heat in a heavy bottomed, oven safe pot. Season pork with salt and brown in batches until brown on most sides. Remove meat from pot.
  2. Pour chicken broth into pot, scraping the brown bits from the bottom and bring to a simmer.
  3. Return the meat to the pot and season with paprika and cumin. Top with the salsa verde and onions.
  4. Cover pot and bake at 325 degrees for about 2 hours or until the meat shreds easily with a fork.
  5. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and return pot to the oven, UNCOVERED for about 20-30 minutes or until the cooking liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency and the pork is browned. Remove from oven, shred and stir into the cooking liquid to serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4-6 Servings

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  1. Toni says

    Oh my my – I made these yesterday for Cinco de Mayo and they were fabulous!! I followed the recipe to a “T” – using 2 lb. boneless pork tenderloin and followed the timing recommendations, exactly. They couldn’t have turned out better. They are even great heated up the next day. I will make these again and again I’m sure!

  2. MamaintheKitchen says

    Literally beyond our wildest dreams. I have had this recipe pinned for quite awhile, and finally had a free weekend…so out came the pork and my large stockpot!!! Followed the directions to a ‘t’ and it was mouth wateringly, phenomenally scrumptious. My husband likes anything I make…and I always ask for a rating as we eat…he couldn’t even rank it, he was eating so fast with a mouth full!!! Cannot say enough about this recipe. And the flavor is truly even better the next day! Took leftovers to school to warm up at lunch and every person that walked in the teacher’s lounge raved over the smell…I didn’t share! I am making these to take to our end of the year fiesta this week! Thank you for sharing Heather!

  3. Gerri Araneda says

    My kids don’t typically like the same things, and much less what I like, but THIS was a hit!!! They came out incredibly delicious! thank you! :)

  4. Kristene says

    Fabulous! I made these to take for lunch to work, and it turned out beautifully. I added a bit of orange juice and a jalapeno, and it is so yummy. Thank you for this recipe!


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