Carnitas in Lettuce Cups

The addition of bitter chocolate adds a deep flavor to the pork. You can add carnitas to tacos, burritos, tamales, empanadas, or use it for a pulled pork sandwich.

Serves: 8Hands-on: 1 hourTotal: 15 hours 30 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 8


  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1⁄8 tsp. coriander
  • 1⁄8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 lbs. pork roast (leg or shoulder)
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 large limes, cut into wedges


  • The day before, make the rub spice mix. Combine cocoa powder, salt, crushed red pepper, oregano, white pepper, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and onion. Cut the roast into pieces and rub with the spice mixture. Wrap the meat in butcherʼs paper or foil and refrigerate overnight.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in an uncovered pressure cooker over medium heat. Brown the roast on all sides. Add enough water to almost cover the meat (2 to 3 cups). Close and lock the lid.
  • Turn the heat up to high. When the cooker reaches pressure, lower the heat to the minimum needed to maintain pressure. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes at high pressure.
  • Remove from the heat and allow the pot to sit for 30 minutes before carefully releasing any residual pressure.
  • Remove the pork from the cooker and place on a platter. Using two forks, shred the meat into strips. Set aside.
  • Reduce the cooking liquid in the cooker by half. Cool the liquid and remove the layer of fat that rises to the top.
  • In a large, wide sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and fry the shredded pork until it becomes lightly brown, (5 minutes). Pour the cooking liquid over the pulled pork and heat through.
  • To make lettuce wraps, carefully remove the outer leaves of the lettuce and arrange on a platter with carrots. Fill with pork and finish with a squirt of fresh lime before serving.