Orange and Milk-Braised Pork Carnitas


Oranges are quite versatile. Aside from juicing and eating them fresh, you can also use them as ingredients in many pork, beef, and chicken recipes to boost the flavor and aroma of the dishes. You can toss orange slices in a salad, make jams and marmalades, make marinades and sauces, and you can even use oranges in pastries and cakes. You can use oranges in many other ways and your only limit is your imagination.

Navel Orange Origins

The exact origin of the Navel orange is a little ambiguous. What is known for sure is that the Navel Oranges originated in Bahia, Brazil and were first discovered as a mutation on a Laranja Selecta orange tree around 1820. The citrus was given the name Navel because of the rudimentary second fruit that develops at the apex of the primary fruit and looks like a bellybutton or a human navel from the outside.

Navels first arrived in the United States in 1870 and were grown by Eliza Tibbets in 1873 in Riverside, California. Since Navels are seedless and can only be propagated thru grafting, the fruits produced are uniform and dependably similar. Because of the fine qualities of Navel – easy to peel, sweet and juicy – it became so popular that it grew to be the foundation of the citrus industry in California. This recipe for Orange and Milk-Braised Pork Carnitas is easy and delicious.

How to make Orange and Milk-Braised Pork Carnitas

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Yield: 8 servings


  • 3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into large pieces
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Hale Groves Navel Orange, juiced and zested
  • 2 cups whole milk


  1. Season pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a large pot, heat oil over high heat. Working in batches, cook the pork in the hot oil for 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Place the cooked pork with the accumulated fat in an oven-safe pot.
  3. Flavor pork with bay leaves, dried oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper then gradually stir in orange juice, zest, and milk. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once done set heat to low. Cover and simmer while stirring from time to time until pork is fork tender but not yet falling apart.
  4. Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  5. Remove pork from liquid then skim some fat from the pot to grease the baking dish. Put the pieces of pork on the prepped baking dish then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of grease over the meat.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pork is brown. Stir pork.
  7. Turn on the oven’s broiler and cook pork for 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp. Serve as a main dish or as a taco filling.
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