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Tacos de Carnitas

Photo: Jeff Minton
Total time 3 hrs, 45 mins
Yield Makes 12 tacos
At La Taqueria, in the Mission District of San Francisco, the tortillas, beans, and salsa are all made from scratch. In our timesaving version, the star remains the juicy, tender, crisp-edged pork carnitas--"little meats." You'll have leftover pork, which you can add to eggs for a hearty brunch or freeze as a future gift to yourself.


  • 5 pounds pork butt, cut into large chunks
  • About 4 cups lard*
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 24 small corn tortillas
  • 2 cups coarsely shredded jack cheese
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained, rinsed, and warmed
  • Pico de gallo salsa

Nutrition Information

  • calories 655
  • caloriesfromfat 66 %
  • protein 33 g
  • fat 50 g
  • satfat 20 g
  • carbohydrate 17 g
  • fiber 2.6 g
  • sodium 546 mg
  • cholesterol 130 mg

How to Make It

  1. Cook pork with 1/4 cup water in a large, wide, heavy pot (stainless steel or enameled iron) over high heat, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes.

  2. Add lard and reduce heat to low. Move pork chunks as needed to keep them submerged. Cook pork until starting to soften on the edges but still firm in the center, about 1 hour.

  3. Whirl garlic and salt together in a food processor to make a paste. Stir garlic paste into lard.

  4. Cook pork until fork tender, about 1 hour more. Lift pork into a strainer set over a bowl. When cool, break into smaller pieces.

  5. Spoon about 1 tbsp. melted lard into a large frying pan. Lay a tortilla in pan, sprinkle evenly with about 1/4 cup cheese, and set another tortilla on top to create a quesadilla. Cook over medium heat, turning once, until cheese has melted, 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

  6. Fill quesadilla with about 1/2 cup carnitas, beans, and salsa.

  7. *Find lard (manteca in Spanish) at Latino markets, or order it from a butcher. Freshly rendered tastes best.

  8. Note: Nutritional analysis is per taco without salsa.