Smoked Pork Canitas

This Pork Carnitas recipe is essentially a pork confit…pork cooked in pork fat. We bought a smoker a few years back and get a lot of use out of it throughout the year. Typically, we will smoke a number of things at once. This time, along with the carnitas, we threw in an oxtail from our friends at A&B Distributors and a chicken carcass to make a broth out of for another dish. 

A few notes on cooking first. If you don’t have a smoker, don’t panic. Cook it in your oven at 250° for 6 hours or so. You can even put it all in a slow cooker. We added a ½ lb of pork leaf fat, which you typically make lard out of. If you don’t have a freezer with a package of leaf fat sitting around, just use about a cup of lard from the supermarket. And this recipe works well with pork shoulder as well just reduce the leaf fat/lard by ½ as the shoulder has more fat within it.

For the next week, we used this pork in a number of incarnations to get the most out of it. For breakfast, we would fry it crisp and add a little apple cider vinegar, for dinner it was served over rice (cauliflower rice in our case), on chips, and of course a sandwich with pork, pickle, tomato, and some mayonnaise is hard to beat!

Smoked Pork Carnitas (Whole30, Paleo)
These rich pork carnitas are versatile for large crowds or as leftovers for the week. Enjoy them over rice, potatoes, in tortillas, enchiladas, on nachos, or pan fry until crunchy for breakfast!
  • 1 ½ lb pork loin
  • 2 large onions, peeled and quartered
  • 20 small tomatoes or 5 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 banana peppers, thickly sliced
  • 2 lemons, cut into 8ths
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ lb leaf fat or lard
  1. Remove pork loin from refrigerator 30 minutes before desired cooking time to bring to room temperature.

  2. Combine salt, cumin, thyme, parsley and black pepper in bowl.
  3. Slice pork into large, 3”-4” pieces and rub spice mixture on all surfaces.
  4. In large baking pan with 2” sides, add pork, vegetables, lemons, and lard.

  5. Heat smoker according to directions to 250° with water soaked wood (we used apple wood). When wood begins to smoke, place pan with pork and vegetable into smoker and close.
  6. Check pork in 6 hours. Piercing with a fork, pork should fall apart easily. Of not, return to smoker and check every 45 minutes. It took our pork 7 ½ hours.
  7. When fully cooked, remove from smoker and allow to cool for 30 minutes before using.

  8. Alternate Method: If you do not have a smoker, cook in oven set to 250° for same amount of time. Or cook for 7-8 hours in slow cooker.
We encourage you to strain and keep the flavorful pork fat that renders. Use it as a cooking fat for eggs, vegetables, and other meats. Keeps for months in refrigerator.