Mexican Style Beef or Pork

Shredded Mexican Style Beef or Pork

Hands down the best & easiest recipe for carnitas or barbacoa & use it in so many ways! Burritos,tacos, flautas, tostadas, and on and on!!

Hands down one of our favorite family recipes, this Mexican Shredded Beef or Pork has it all. Flavor, as much or as little heat as you want, and versatility. Make tacos, Flautas, Tostadas, or Burritos, just to get started. Best of all, braise it in the oven or slow cook.

Mexican Style Beef or Pork
Mexican Style Beef or Pork – this is the Pork version on a tostada

You’ll notice right away that this has five different kinds of peppers in it! Don’t let that scare you away, this isn’t overly hot, just flavorful:

  • Adjust heat upfront by reducing the amount, but peppers are flavor. It would be better to use less than omit any for the deepest range of flavor.
  • Once cooked, you’ll find the beef or pork is beautifully flavored and the heat lies in the sauce. Adjust the heat by using more or less of it.
Mexican Style Beef or Pork
Mexican Style Beef or Pork – this is the Pork version

When this is finished cooking, allow a little extra time to rest & shred the meat and defat the sauce. The sauce can all be scraped up and put in the freezer so the fat hardens right on top and is easily removed. then passed as a condiment. If slow cooked, you might want to reduce the sauce a bit.

I love making this in the oven and getting those roasted darkened bits that mix in with the tender, shredded meat, but you can’t beat the slow cooker for an easy peasy hands-off meal. And of course, if you’re taking this to a food day at work or a potluck, the slow cooker is the way to go.

Mexican Style Beef or Pork
Mexican Style Beef or Pork – you cannot imagine how good this spicy sauce is!

I don’t know about you guys, but when I make a dish like this that revolves around a lot of meat, I try to do a couple of things to stretch it and make it more frugal. Mostly because my family tends to just pig out on anything like this!

  • When it’s finished and before it’s served, portion & freeze some. People will eat less if they see a smaller dish of something.
  • Serve with sides and use smaller corn tortillas.Tostadas are ideal; they don’t hold as much, take longer to eat, and that gives your body enough time to signal fullness.
  • I think about the “heaviness” of the dish and rather than serving up other sides (refried beans, rice, chips, and guacamole) that have a ton of calories, I go heavy on the vegetables and find lighter sides.
  • Consider lighter cheese options – and by this, I don’t mean “light” cheese (yuck) but I might spend a bit more and grab a Mexican cheese or substitute a little feta…a little bit of a very flavorful cheese packs a lot of flavor for fewer calories and you’ll use less.
Mexican Style Beef or Pork
Mexican Style Beef or Pork – this is the pork version just out of the oven! Heaven!

If you wish to make huge Chipotle like burritos, that’s a different story: Use a larger roast! This isn’t a copycat Chipotle Carnitas or Barbacoa recipe (Chipotle wishes theirs was this good) but follow the rice, beans and salsa recipes from my Tastes Like Chicken – Chipotle Chicken recipe. (That recipe, by the way, is a Copycat recipe.)

The toppings are a variable – lime is a must have condiment…it brightens the whole dish. I almost always serve this with an Avocado, Orange, Red Onion Salad. The tangy sweetness cuts through the richness.

Mexican Style Beef or Pork
Mexican Style Beef or Pork – this is the Pork version

Mexican Style Shredded Pork

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 three pound pork roast, shoulder is best, go larger if you wish *
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons oil (plus extra for your tortillas)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 – 16 ounce can of tomatoes with juice, broken up
  • 1 small can green chiles, diced
  • 1 – 3 jalapenos, seeded and diced (I like to use two, depending on size
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons chile pequin (or red chile flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Brown pork on all sides in 1 tablespoon of oil, remove from pan. Add onions to pan with a little more oil if necessary. When translucent, add garlic and spices and cook for a moment longer.

Add the tomatoes and juice and green chilis, then add the roast (and any drippings) back to the pan. Spoon the sauce over the roast, cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil and bake at 325 degrees for about two to three hours.  The roast is done when it’s fork tender and easily shredded.

During the cooking process, check at about two hours and again around three to make certain there is still enough moisture in the pan, and add a little water if necessary.  All those goodies in the bottom of the pan are going to make your sauce, and depending on how big your pan is and how much fat content there is in the roast, the amount of liquid can vary.

When the roast is done, remove it from the pan, pour the sauce into a container and skim off any fat. You may need to add a bit of water to the drippings to make them a sauce-like consistency. Shred the roast and add some of the sauce if you wish and toss with the meat, saving some to pass on the side for serving.

This can be made as well in a crock pot: cook on low for about seven to 10 hours or overnight.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups of shredded meat and 1 1/2 cups sauce.

Note: I almost always make this with a larger 8 pound or so roast and just cook it a little longer when I braise it. Watch the liquid in the pan, it will need about three to three and half hours. It’s fine at the same time in the slow cooker.

By the way, this recipe is so old and faded it’s a good thing I have it nearly memorized!!  I just had to show it!  Note I’ve marked it “five stars” per my recipe rating system…I’ve spoken a bit more about my “rating” system in Menu Planning 101.

If you couldn't already tell this is a favorite, you can still see my "five stars" at the top!
If you couldn’t already tell this is a favorite, you can still see my “five stars” at the top!

Tortillas: 

The easiest way I’ve found to get a good crunchy tortilla for a Tostada is to fry quickly in a small amount of hot oil in a nonstick pan that’s just a bit larger than the tortilla. I add the oil to a layer of about 1/4 inch, heat, lay in a tortilla, turn it over right away. As soon as one side is nearly golden brown, turn it back over and cook the other side for a bit longer.

They’ll darken a bit more and crisp when you take them out. Personally, I don’t like them hard all the way through, but like a little crisp with a touch of chewiness. Drain well and shake off the excess oil when you remove it from the pan. This can be done a bit ahead, but is best right before serving.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! Do not discount the savings! I check sites every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Kitchen & Cooking Hack:

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Put Your Own Spin on It:

  • I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve always been curious how this would be rubbed with the spices and slow smoked in the barbecue….maybe this summer!
  • Try making this with Rotel if you wish or shortcut by using a good Salsa, too.
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