Carnitas Braised in Witbier

Yunhee Kim

I like making this with Belgian wheat beer because they're often spiced with coriander and bitter orange, akin to Mexican-style braised meat; they are also a little sour, which lends the meat a nice complexity. The result is delicious, but frankly, you can use any full-bodied, full-flavored beer that you like to drink.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 1 hour


  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks

  • 1 large onion, quartered

  • 5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 ancho or other mild dried chili

  • Salt

  • Black pepper

  • 2 12-ounce bottles Allagash white, or another beer in the Belgian witbier wheat beer style, like Hoegaarden

  • Neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, if needed

  • Lime wedges for serving


1. Put the pork, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, chili and some salt and pepper in a large pot with a lid or a Dutch oven. Add the beer and water if needed to cover. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil and skim any foam that comes to the surface. Partly cover and adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily. Cook until the meat is quite tender, about 1 hour, then cool.

2. Remove the bay leaves, spices and chili with a slotted spoon and discard. Break or roughly chop the meat into bite-size pieces, return to the pan and cook uncovered until all the liquid has evaporated. Continue to cook the meat in the remaining fat until it’s crisped and browned; add a little oil if it sticks or becomes dry. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with the lime wedges, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix (Photo: Yunhee Kim)