California Carnitas

California Carnitas

Cook time: 60 mins + 1 day work prep
Servings: 3-4
Difficulty: Advanced

Let's kick up your taco game with our California Carnitas Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos, topped with Tomato Confit. We've taken succulent pork shoulder, slow-braised it to perfection, and paired it with the sweet, savory magic of Tomato Confit. Each bite is a flavorful explosion that'll transport your taste buds to the sunny vibes of California.

Whether you're getting ready for Taco Tuesday or just up for a delicious food adventure, our California Carnitas Tacos with Tomato Confit are your ticket to a tasty time.

What you'll learn

  • Master the braising technique which is essential to achieving tender and flavorful meat.
  • Understand the importance of texture and flavor combinations to make a delectable dish.
  • Create a homemade tomato confit and pork seasoning mix, both are easy to make.

Mise En Place

Chopping Board
Saute Pan
Large Pot with Lid
Sauce Pot
Sheet Tray
Chopping Board
Saute Pan
Large Pot with Lid
Sauce Pot
Sheet Tray

Shopping List

Garlic powder, 1 tsp

Onion powder, 1 tsp

Dried oregano, 1 tsp

Smoked paprika, 1 tsp

Aleppo pepper, 1/2 tsp

Red chili flakes, 1/2 tsp

Pork shoulder, 2 pounds

White onions, 2x

Garlic, 6 cloves

Canola oil, 1/4 cup

Tequila Blanco, 2 tbsp

Chicken stock, 24 oz

Chile de árbol, 5x

Pasilla chili, 2x

California chili, 3x

Cilantro, 2 bunches

Medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, 4x

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil, 1/2 cup

Tomatillos, 4x

Can crushed tomatoes, 16 oz

Tortillas, 12x

Limes, 2x

Balinese Truffle Salt, to taste


  1. 1 Day Before Cooking
  2. To make the pork seasoning mix, stir together garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika, red chili flakes, Aleppo pepper in a small bowl until combined.
  3. Cube the pork shoulder and transfer to a large bowl. Season with 2 tbsp of pork seasoning mix and Balinese Truffle Salt (about 1-2 teaspoons) and set aside to temper for 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  5. Dice one of the onions. Smash three of the garlic cloves.
  6. Heat a dutch or oven-safe lidded pot oven over high heat. Add the canola oil to the preheated pan.
  7. Just before the oil begins smoking, use tongs sear each cube of pork on all sides, working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Set aside the seared pork on a plate, leaving the pork fat in the pan.
  8. Add the diced onion and smashed garlic and sauté in the pork fat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and soft.
  9. Add the tequila to deglaze, stirring up any brown bits that have formed.
  10. Add the chicken stock and chili arbols (the smallest peppers in the mix) to the pot and bring to a simmer, then add the pork and any collected juices.
  11. Add 1/2 bunch of cilantro to cover, then, once at a nice simmer, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven to braise until the pork is fork tender, about 2–3 hours.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until it’s room temperature. Once cool, cover the pot and refrigerate until you start cookin’!
  13. To make tomato confit, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  14. Slice the tomatoes and season with salt.
  15. Place in a baking dish and just barely cover with olive oil. Confit in the oven until shriveled and tender, about 1 1/2–2 hours.
  16. Cool and pack in a small container so the flavors can mingle overnight.

How to cook

  1. Turn your broiler to high. Bring 2 quarts (8 cups) of water to a boil. Reheat the braised pork shoulder over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the tomato confit, scraping out any oil in the container.
  3. Bring the braised pork to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer.
  4. Cook until the pork mixture is hot, tender, and the liquid is reduced to a saucy consistency.
  5. Husk and halve the tomatillos. Smash the remaining garlic cloves.
  6. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, toast the remaining dried chilis until the air is spicy
  7. Add the toasted chilis to the boiling water. Turn off the heat and let soften for 5 minutes.
  8. Drain over a large bowl to reserve the liquid.
  9. Spread the canned tomatoes, garlic cloves, and tomatillos onto a sheet tray. Place under your broiler and allow to caramelize for 3–5 mins.
  10. Add the caramelized tomatoes, garlic, tomatillos, and rehydrated chilis to a blender.
  11. Blend, adding reserved chili water as necessary, until a nice salsa-like consistency forms. Taste and season with Balinese Truffle Salt.
  12. Dice the remaining onion. Slice the remaining 1 bunch of cilantro. Transfer to a small bowl and mix to combine.
  13. In the same sauté pan you used to toast the chilis, toast the tortillas until nice and soft.
  14. Slice the limes into wedges.
  15. Place the tortillas on a plate, add the saucy pork, a dollop of salsa, a sprinkle of cilantro and onion, and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!