High Protein Meal – Carnitas & Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Here’s a high protein meal you’re sure to love. The recipe is for Carnitas with roasted tomatillo salsa. Carnitas, which means little meats in Spanish is a style of roasted pork that you find on the menu at every Mexican restaurant and taqueria. It’s usually served as tacos. This meal does without the tortillas since I want to keep the carbohydrate content low too.

The carnitas recipe in this article is the result of much trial and error. Unlike other pork recipes which often result in dry, flavorless meat, this makes super tender, juicy, flavorful carnitas that melt in your mouth. My wife, who grew up eating Carnitas claims their the best she’s ever had.

Since it makes so many servings, this is a great dish to cook once a week and eat over the course of several meals. Every serving packs 26 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrates, and 26 grams of fat. Don’t be afraid of the fat content. The majority of the fat in every serving is from heart healthy monounsaturated fats. This Carnitas recipe is also loaded with a variety of health and performance enhancing nutrients including creatine, potassium, and tyrosine.


  • 3-4 lbs. of Pork shoulder or butt trimmed of excess fat.
  • 3/4 cup Chicken stock.
  • 6 cloves of peeled garlic.
  • 2 dried chile peppers. I like Habanero peppers.
  • 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt.
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

  • 8 ripe tomatillo with husks removed.
  • ¼ of an onion chopped into small cubes.
  • 2 cloves of garlic.
  • 1 chile pepper (I like Habenero’s but you can also use Jalepeno or Serrano peppers).
  • A handul of fresh cilantro.
  • ¼ cup of fresh lime juice.
  • 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

How To Make The Roasted Carnitas

  1. Preheat your overn to 225 degrees.
  2. Cut the pork shoulder into 3-4 inch cubes.
  3. Place the pork cubes into a roasting pan. Rub the salt and pepper over the pork coating it generously.
  4. Pour the chicken stock into the roasting pan around the pork. The stock should cover about ¼ of the pork.
  5. Add the garlic cloves to the roasting pan placing them around the pork.
  6. Crush the dried chiles and add them stock in the roasting pan.
  7. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and place it on the center rack of your oven.
  8. Roast the pork for 2-2.5 hours in the oven. Turn the pork in the pan after about an hour of cooking.
  9. When the pork is done it will be brown all all sides and slightly pink in the middle. It should be tender and easily pierced with a knife. You know it’s done when it easily shreds with your fork.

Making The Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

  1. Remove the tomatillos husks and rinse them with warm water to remove their sticky coating.
  2. Cut the core out of the tomatillos with a sharp knife and place them in a roasting pan.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatillos and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the tomatillos in a 400 degree oven.
  5. Roast for 15-20 minutes until the tomatillos are a greenish-brown color and are soft to the touch.
  6. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Heat a dry skillet on your stove top until it begins to smoke.
  8. Place the garlic and chile pepper in the skillet.
  9. Roast until the garlic and chile is blackened on all sides.
  10. Remove both from the skillet and allow to cool. When they’re cooled, peel the garlic and carefully remove the skin from the chile pepper with your hands or a sharp knife. Be sure to wash your hands since the heat from the chile pepper can burn.
  11. Add the tomatillos, chiles, garlic, cilantro, and olive oil to a blender and blend the ingredients to a smooth puree.
  12. Add the lime juice, salt, pepper, and onions to the mixture and stir into the salsa.

The Finishing Touches
Before plating, you’ll want to crisp the pork. This is what makes Carnitas so special, it’s crispy on the outside but tender and juicy on the inside. You can crisp the pork 2 ways. The first is to heat 1-2 tablespoons of lard, olive, or coconut oil in a hot pan and add the pork. I like to crisp mine in Rick Bayless’ Slow Roasted Garlic Mojo (some of the mojo is pictured on the plate). Doing this gives the pork a lot of garlic flavor. Cook and turn it to crisp it on all sides. The second way to crisp the pork is to heat your oven to 500 degrees and place the pork in a roasting pan on the highest rack setting your oven has so that it’s just under the broiler. Either way works great.

Serve the Carnitas by placing 2-3 pieces on a plate. Spoon the tomatillo salsa over the pork. I like to use enough so that I get salsa with every bite of pork.

This dish pairs well with several vegetables. Two of my favorites to eat with it are roasted asparagus or steamed broccoli. Either are delicious, low carbohydrate, healthy sides that complement the pork and salsa well.

Nutritional Information
Calories per 4 oz. serving: 329
Carbohydrates: 0 grams
Fat: 22 grams
Monounsaturated Fat: 11
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2
Saturated Fat: 9
Protein: 26 grams

Tomatillo Salsa
Calories per serving: 53
Carbohydrates: 4.5 grams
Fiber: 1.5 grams
Fat: 4
Monounsaturated: 3 grams
Polyunsaturated: .5 grams
Saturated: .5 grams
Protein: .75 grams

Eating this high protein meal is a healthy way to lose fat, or gain weight to build muscle. Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll prefer it over plain old chicken breast any day of the week. For another high protein recipe try our Mexican style Chocolate Covered Almonds.

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