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Milk Cooked Carnitas (Using Boston Butt Roast)

recipe at a glance
Rating: 5/5
19 reviews

ready in: 2-5 hrs
serves/makes:   8 cups

recipe id: 13102
cook method: stovetop, oven

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4 pounds boned, tied pork shoulder or butt
2 onions, peeled and quartered
4 stalks celery (including leaves), rinsed and cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk


Rinse pork and put in a 6- to 8-quart pan. Add onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough water to cover meat -- 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 quarts.

Bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat, and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. With slotted spoons, transfer pork to a 9- by 13-inch pan; reserve cooking juices. Discard string, and use 2 forks to pull meat into large chunks. Pour milk over meat.

Bake pork in a 325 degrees F oven until drippings are browned, about 1 hour, stirring and scraping pan occasionally.

Meanwhile, pour reserved juices through a strainer into a bowl; discard residue. Skim and discard fat. Return juices to pan. Boil over high heat until reduced to 2 cups, about 45 minutes.

When pork drippings are browned, add 1 cup of the reduced juices; scrape drippings free and stir meat, breaking into smaller pieces. Bake until juices have evaporated and drippings are browned, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Repeat step, using remaining juices, and cook until meat edges are crisp and browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt.

added by jen jjensen


34 calories, 1 grams fat, 5 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein per 1 cup meat.
Show full nutritional data (including Weight Watcher's Points ®, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, and diabetic exchanges)

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Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This recipe is worth the time and effort if you want REAL carnitas! Don't change a thing and you will be very happy with this recipe. If you are new to carnitas just follow the directions and it will turn out perfectly. Carnitas can't be rushed so take your time.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
Holy carnitas Batman! This recipe is amazing! We had a birthday party yesterday for my brother in law and this was a hit. They couldn't get enough of it!

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This was a GREAT recipe!!!!! Everyone loved it.
I did make some changes to it though.
I used big hunk "carnitas labeled" pork- about the size of softballs for my 1st attempt (which tasted delicious) and the next time I used thick cut boneless pork chops ( about 12 of them) which came out completely different than the other cut of pork. tThe carnitas cut was very tender and rich while the pork chops were dryer but still tasteful. They were more like "white meat". I persoanally preferred the carnitas cut for this delicious recipe.
Instead of cooking it in all water, I used a combination of dry white wine, 'not from concentrate' orange juice or regular apple juice (I have made this recipe twice), cola, and water.
I left out the celery and bay leaf (didn't have any) instead I used 1/2 tsp. oregano, the thyme and I had a few dry rubs from "Tulocay's Napa Valley"- Beef and Burger rub and Poultry rub and I used about 1 Tbls. each.
I used sea salt.
And mixed half 'n half with some 1% milk to make the milk asked for in the recipe.
I reduced down the UNSTRAINED liquid (INCLUDING the onions and garlic- after I had pureed them) and at the proper time I poured the rich reduction over the the meat after the 1st hour of oven time and stirred it into the meat and returned it to the oven for 15 min.
We were all hungry and it looked great already so I skipped the last 15 min. and it tasted amazing.
The texture, flavor, appearance are perfect.
I agree with one of the reviewers that I think the milk did something really great for the flavor, it added a really delicious quality to the final flavor.
This is now my favorite mexican meat.
In fact; the pork that comes out before the rendering and baking tasted really good for just a nice pork dinner to be served with potatos and veggies for a nice meal. The meat is tender and delicious. The oven time makes them crispy, carmelized and rich. Possibly due somewhat to the addition of the milk.
This recipe is one of the best recipes I have ever made and eaten.
I love it all the way until it is gone, never tire of it.
You won't be disappointed!
I start craving this when it's gone.
make it and serve it with homemade salsa or green sauce and you can make enchiladas, tacos, burritos, whatever.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
I have never placed a review but this recipe was awesome I had to tell you. I had a 7.5lb pork butt roast and put in the crockpot. I had read all the reviews and decided to put a smoked porter beer from Yazoo brewery and water as my liquid to cover the pork. Along with the celery and onion. I then followed the recipe as written. It was outstanding. I did have quite abit of liquid at the end but reduce it to the 2 cups and poor it over the meat. It was well worth the extra time. I had so much left over it will make 2 more meals. Will absolutely do this again.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This was awesome! Thank you so much for this recipe. I am a pro and college football fan and we tailgate big. We were doing a mexican theme for the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix and I was in charge of the meat. I did about 10 pounds of this for the crew and they couldn't get enough. One twist I did to the recipe was add a 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. I love the stuff and put it in everything I cook so that might be a bit much for others. Can't wait to do it again.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
VERY good. It took all day, and smelled so good that every time I took the meat out of the oven to baste/stir my boyfriend hovered around snatching up little pieces -- but in the end it was worth the wait and having to fight him off with the greasy tongs. I used cumin instead of the thyme (matter of taste), and I think I must have used too much water to start because reducing the juices took WAY more than 45 minutes. In fact, they never did reduce to two cups, so I just used them as they were. I made the mistake of removing most of the fat from the meat as I transfered it from the stove to the oven -- so things came out a tad dry... But still excellent. Next time I'll pay more attention to the amount of water, and definitely leave the fat on till the end.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
I made this for a cousin’s get-together and it was a hit. My husband thought it was better than the restaurant version we’d loved for years. I didn’t buy the pork shoulder, but bought boneless pork shoulder cut into country spareribs. This made for less work after the original cooking in the Dutch oven. I cut as much fat off as possible, and cut the spareribs into approximately 3 inch pieces. Then I followed the recipe for the 2 to 2 ½ hour simmer. After that I separated the meat from the stock, poured the stock through a sieve and stored the meat and stock separately over night in the refrigerator. That way the fat hardens and was easy to remove from the top of the stock. The next day I poured the milk over the meat in a 9 X 13 inch pan and proceeded with the rest of the recipe. The cooking time for the meat, even though it had been refrigerated, was still good at one hour. Meanwhile, the stock cooks down to a light syrupy consistency and gives the pork a wonderful taste once the last two baking times are complete. For the baking time, I kept the pan lightly covered with foil as we don’t like crisp brown edges, but a more moist and tender version.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
I never post reviews, but I had to do it for this one. I actually tried this over the weekend and my family and I absolutely loved it. It was great! Like other posters, I only had certain things at home, so it wasn't followed to a "T," but it was still excellent. I used fat free milk, though the recipe doesn't specify. I also only used 1 small onion and 3 garlic cloves. I didn't have bay leaves or celery, etc. I was a little afraid at first, but it was well worth it. My pork was also a smaller 3 to 3 1/2 lb. roast. I now wish it had been larger so we could have had more leftovers. Highly recommended and well worth the wait. Promise.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This recipe was excellent! I had a smaller pork butt, just about 3 pounds. I only had one onion so I had to make do with that, but it came out great! The only difference for me was I used mostly water and 2 light beers for the boiling portion. I also noticed because my pork was smaller I needed more water to cover it. (the larger pork would have displaced more of the water and so I would have needed less to cover it.) so I had to simmer the broth longer to reduce it, about an hour and a half. Thanks so much for the recipe!

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
I tried this recipe tonight and it was absolutely amazing! We all loved it and I can't wait to do it again with a few twists!

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
Hi, I just tried this recipe and had my whole family raving. It takes a little bit of work, but it is worth it. Thanks for posting !!

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This is a great recipe. I have never made carnitas before but I had a dream about eating them. I was afraid to try some at a local restaurant and be disappointed. So I followed this recipe and YUMMY! Where I am from you can just go and buy them already made. Too easy when you live in the San Fernando Valley. I made a substitution on the milk and used Coke instead. I would use less than 1/2 cup of Coke next time. Gracias por la sabor de mi suenos!

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This turned out every bit as good as I anticipated. I read through several recipes and picked this one based on how it sounded plus the reviews. The pork was juicy and flavorful, and crispy like you want carnitas. I also used some pappy's seasoning rubbed all over the roast and sprinkled with the juice of a lime before simmering. There was extra left over juice after all was done, and I used that along with fresh chopped tomatoes to make rice. mmmmmm

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
If you like the crispy bits on the outside of a roast, for example, this recipe is for you. Basically turns an entire pork roast shoulder cut into those crispy bits we all love.

I use "pork shoulder blade roast" and it works amazing.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This is an excellent way to prepare boston butt if you have the time. I used a 7 lb bone-in butt and increased the cooking times accordingly. It went really well with refried beans baked with grated cheddar on top. Thanks for the recipe.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
Outstanding recipe, I did the roast in the crockpot instead of the stove. Also added Cilantro, 1 Jalepeno, and a Serrano to the crockpot to add a little umph! Great Recipe. Family said the best they ever had.

Registered Member at
Member since:
Jul 30, 2004

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
Wow, great recipe. This method of cooking pork "carnitas" is a bit unconventional to me. But, hey, what is cooking all about anyway? You always gotta try new stuff. So I opted for this new method and discovered it works great. It did take quite some time. Five hours to be exact. It wasn't so much the effort, just the time. Well worth it though.

My friends and I often have a "Taco Night" on Thursdays. Usually we eat ground beef, pulled pork, or shreaded chicken. So I decided to present this new recipe this Taco night. Needless to say, the ground beef went to waste and everyone loved the carnitas.

I followed the recipe as a guideline. That is, I used my own seasoning... I added a couple beers in place of all that water. I also replaced the recommended herbs with some fresh rosemary and other***orted italian herbs. I left out the celery because I forgot to get it at the store. I also didn't boil down the afterbirth into a sauce. No time. I simply reduced it slightly and poured it over as directed. I didn't really change cooking times much, just baked it a little longer that recommended. I think the real secret to this recipe is the milk.

The flavor is very rich but your can still taste the pork. The milk almost adds a cheese like flavor that seems to last forever. The texture of the meat is plesantly layered. I.E., Crispy, juicy, tender yet firm, melt in your mouth. Because of the intense preparation and cooking, the flavor is also layered. It creates a balance of flavors that almost anyone can enjoy, allowing each person to focus on what they want to taste.

I will be doing it again soon.

Registered Member at
Member since:
May 20, 2004

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
I concur with the other person reviewing this recipe- The taste is incredible and well worth the effort - I doubled the recipe so that I could freeze some -

Thanks for a great recipe

Registered Member at
Member since:
Jan 11, 2004

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This recipe is long and involved, but the results are well worth the effort! The meat was tender/crispy, rich and flavorful. Thanks so much!

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