Hugo’s Pork Carnitas

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Hugo Ortega Carnitas

Pork carnitas from Hugo’s in Houston, created by chef Hugo Ortega, are a delicious and crowd-pleasing handheld for your next tailgate or game day party.

“Tailgating is not something I knew about or did growing up, but I think it’s great. Mexican culture is all about gathering with friends and family and enjoying great food and drink and time together, and that is what tailgating is all about, with a little hometown pride thrown in.  Carnitas are a great dish to make for a group gathering, and who doesn’t love tacos? If you’re lucky, you’ll have some leftovers for breakfast the next day, but they are so delicious, you can’t guarantee it.”

-Hugo Ortega

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  • 6 lb. boneless pork butt
  • 6 cups pork lard
  • 1 can/bottle beer such as Modelo or Corona
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 guajillo pepper, deseeded
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 16 corn or flour tortillas
  • 1 cup white onion, diced small dice
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 6-8 radishes, shaved or thinly sliced
  • 1 cup salsa (use your favorite homemade sauce or your favorite brand)
  1. Rinse and dry the pork butt, cut into fist-sized chunks. 
  2. Preheat a Dutch oven over high heat.
  3. Add lard and allow to heat. Add pork pieces one at a time being very careful not to splatter oil. The meat should be completely covered with the lard. This step is very important to sear the meat and give it a nice golden brown color.
  4. Allow to cook for 20 minutes. Add beer, orange juice, and lime juice.
  5. Blend together water, spices, garlic, guajillo pepper, and salt; add to the meat.
  6. Lower temperature to medium-low, and cook uncovered for 2.5 to 3 hours or until meat is fork-tender and golden brown.
  7. Remove meat from Dutch oven and shred with two forks. Enjoy while hot!

To serve:  Heat tortillas and place all ingredients out for making tacos!  Place meat in taco and top with onions, cilantro, radishes, and a squeeze of lime juice and your favorite salsa.

  • Created by chef Hugo Ortega, Hugo's, Houston

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