Open Arms of Minnesota

Recipe #101: Carnitas Verde

By Nathaniel Tietge, Volunteer

One of the great pleasures of winter is eating up the extra calories our bodies need just to cope with the weather! One of my favorite dishes is enchiladas. This recipe is not the quickest, so it also makes a good activity for those who truly love to cook — and for when the hostile weather renders indoor activities ideal.

To make this a really intensive project, you can make your own refried beans as well. This dish can easily be made vegetarian by using three pounds of cooked black beans and onions with the same seasonings. Enjoy!

Carnitas Verde


3 lbs. pork shoulder roast (aka ‘Boston Butt’)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. garlic powder
4 jalapenos
1 cup sunflower oil
1 – 2 qt. of flavorful liquid

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and then:

1. In a large roasting pan, cover the meat evenly with the oil, using all of it. There will be excess oil; leave it in the pan. Evenly season the meat using the dry spices and turn the meat in the pan so the fattiest part is facing upwards.

2. Add your flavorful liquid to the pan, using enough to reach about half-way up the height of the meat. Typically, one quart will do for a standard Pyrex pan. For flavorful liquid you can use a dry white wine, stock of your choice or even vinegar and water in the ratio of 1:3. If using something with added salt, be mindful of that fact.
3. Add the jalapenos whole to the pan, and then cover and cook the pork until the meat is fork tender. Times will vary, but it usually takes about 2 hours. Worst case scenario: You can cool and chop the meat if time is an issue. In the end you will want this shredded for stuffing the tortillas.
Do not discard the cooking liquid! Reserve for later use. Meanwhile, lets start the sauce!

Verde Sauce

1 qt. tomatillos, canned or otherwise cooked
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. cilantro, puree’d
1 tbsp. cumin
4 tsp. garlic powder
1 large white or yellow onion, diced medium
4 large, mild chilies, diced medium (use anaheim, banana or even bell peppers)

1. In a large sauce pot combine everything except the onions and chilies. Heat on medium and keep it hot.

2. In another pan, lightly sauté the onions and chilies until cooked but avoid cooking them to the point where they develop color. If you have some of your flavorful liquid hanging around, you can give the pan a quick deglaze before adding the vegetables to the sauce pot.
3. Now that you have all of the ingredients together, use a wand mixer (preferred) or blender, and process all of the ingredients until smooth. Return the blended liquid to the sauce pan. Adjust salt to taste. At this point it should be slightly thicker than we want it. Let it simmer in the sauce pot for at least an hour.
4. When the roast comes out of the oven, remove the meat from the pan and allow to rest/cool enough to handle for shredding. Add the jalapenos from the roasting pan to the sauce removing only the inedible stems. Reduce the juice from the roasting pan by half in a large skillet or pot and add it to the sauce. Use your best judgment as you do this, watching for the right consistency. It should be smooth and about as thick as a pea soup.
5. This next step is crucial, and it works best with a wand mixer. After the roasting juice and peppers have been added, blend the sauce again. The oil you added in the initial step of roasting the pork not only kept the meat moist, but also captured the flavors of all the spices and will now ‘fluff’ up the texture of your verde creating a very full and finished flavor.


12 10-inch flour tortillas
1 16-oz. can of refried beans
1 lb. shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and then:

1. At this point you have a pile of shredded pork, a pile of shredded cheese, a delicious sauce, and an open can of refried beans. Spread about one tablespoon of beans, a small amount of cheese and three ounces of pork on a tortilla.

2. Fold the edges in, roll and place in a baking dish that has been prepped with a thin layer of your verde sauce. Repeat until you have filled up the dish (or two). Cover with liberal amounts of sauce, top with cheese, and bake for 20 minutes.

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