Beer Braised Carnitas Tacos with Sweet Potato and Apple Relish
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
Beer Braised Carnitas
  • 5 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, trimmed and cubed
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 habanero peppers, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon adobo chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 thick slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 12 ounce beer
  • 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • juice of 1 lime
  • small corn or flour tortillas, for serving
Caramelized Onions
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Sweet Potato and Apple Relish
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
  • less than ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt (just enough for a light sprinkling)
  • less than ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper (again, just enough for a light sprinkling)
  • 1 large apple, peeled and diced
Beer Braised Carnitas
  1. Cut any excess fat off of your pork, then cut it into 4-inch sized cubes and place them in a large sealable bag or container. In a medium sized bowl, combine the minced garlic, habanero peppers, brown sugar, adobo chili powder, cumin, salt, ground black pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Add this mixture to the cubed pork and rub it in so that it penetrates the meat. Seal the bag and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight.
  2. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat your olive oil over medium-high heat, then add in the diced bacon. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the bacon is nice and crispy. Remove from the pot with a slotted utensil and place on paper towels to drain off some of the fat. Add the cubed pork to the pan and cook over high heat until the pieces all have a nice golden char on them - you will most likely need to work in batches - about 3 minutes on each side. Remove the pork from the pan when browned, place on another plate, and set aside. When the pork has been removed, add in the beer, stock, orange zest, orange juice, and lime juice. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. When the orange juice mixture is simmering, add the pork cubes and bacon to the pot and cover. Place in the oven and braise for 3.5-4 hours, until tender and falling apart. You can take the pork out and stir it once or twice during the braising process, to ensure even cooking.
  4. When the pork is ready, remove it from the cooking liquid, place on a clean plate or bowl, and cover with foil to keep warm. Place the sauce over medium-high heat and bring to a light boil. Reduce for 20-30 minutes, skimming the fat off of the top as you go.
  5. When the sauce is ready to go, pour it into a bowl and set aside. Put the pork back into the pot or pan and shred with two forks. Turn the heat to medium so that the carnitas caramelize a little bit. Add a little bit of sauce into the pork, until it is at the level that you prefer (I used about 2 cups of the sauce and saved the rest for later). Place on a warm tortilla and top with caramelized onions (recipe follows) and sweet potato and apple relish (recipe follows).
Caramelized Onions
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan or skillet over medium heat. Thinly slice an onion and add the slices to the melted butter. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until caramelized. Add another tablespoon of butter halfway through cooking time, if necessary. Serve over the carnitas warm or at room temperature.
Sweet Potato and Apple Relish
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (I recommend making this while the carnitas sauce simmers). Peel and dice your sweet potato into very small cubes, also known as a brunoise. Toss the sweet potatoes with the agave, salt, and pepper. Place on a greased and/or lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until almost tender. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, add the brunoised apple, and toss so that the apple becomes slightly coated with some of the agave. Place back in the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender. Serve over the carnitas warm or at room temperature.
Recipe by The Crepes of Wrath at