Vanessa Mathison - Oven Carnitas
Cameron and his wife Vanessa Mathison share their family Pork Carnitas recipe.
Oven Carnitas
Lunch, Dinner
Yield 4-6 servings
Active: 30 minutes, Total: 3.5 hours


  • 3 pounds Boneless, Skinless Pork Shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Toasted Cumin Seeds
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion (~12 ounces), peeled and quartered, but with root left intact
  • 1 Orange (~6 ounces), peel left on, quartered
  • 4 Large Garlic Cloves, smashed
  • 3 Avocado Leaves (use pieces about the same size as Bay Leaves)
  • 1⁄4 cup Melted Lard or Avocado Oil, room temperature
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Pickled Red Onions (recipe below)
  • Salsa (recipe below)


  • 1 Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • • 3⁄4 cup Vinegar
  • • 3⁄4 cup Water
  • • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • • 1 clove Garlic
  • • 1-2 teaspoons Toasted Black Peppercorns
  • • Pinch of Sugar


  • 1 1⁄2 cups Pineapple, finely diced (~12 ounces)
  • 1⁄2 Red Onion, finely diced (~3.5 ounces)
  • 1⁄2 cup Cilantro Leaves, chopped (~1 ounce)
  • 1-2 Jalapenos, finely diced (add to taste)
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Salt to taste

Vanessa Mathison Pork Carnitas - Home & Family


  1. Heat oven to 275 ̊F.
  2. Season pork cubes with salt, cumin, and oregano. Place in a 9x13 casserole dish.
  3. Squeeze orange quarters over pork, then stuff orange quarters, onion quarters, garlic cloves, and avocado leaves into a casserole dish, between pork cubes. Dish will be tightly packed, make sure ingredients are in a single layer, if possible.
  4. Pour melted lard over the surface. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven until pork is fork-tender, 3 - 3 1⁄2 hours.
  5. When pork is tender, remove the dish from the oven. Remove foil from the dish and discard orange quarters and avocado leaves.
  6. Scoop meat/onion mixture into a large mesh strainer set over the bowl. Allow meat to drain for 5-10 minutes, then place back in the casserole dish.
  7. Separate fat from drippings (you’ll have ~1⁄2 cup), and stir at least 1⁄4 cup back into the meat. Shred pork chunks and season to taste with salt. Chill until ready to serve. Remaining fat/drippings can be saved or discarded as you see fit.
  8. When ready to serve, broil pork in a casserole dish until brown and crisped all over (~5-8 minutes). Remove the casserole dish from the oven, stirk to expose un-crisped meat and broil again until brown all over.
  9. Serve with warm tortillas, pickled red onions, and pineapple salsa.


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine vinegar, water, salt, and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a light boil until all of the salt is dissolved.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and peppercorns to a pint glass jar. Pour the vinegar mixture into the jar.
  3. Let cool on the counter until no longer steaming, then cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


  1. Toss all ingredients together until combined. Season with salt to taste.

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