California Fig Pork Carnitas

Servings: 6

Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
By Robert Del Grande


  • 3 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2 to 3-ounce pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 naval orange, cut into eighths
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 dried Guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh or prepared orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle puree in adobo
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium white onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 poblano peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced into ¼-inch strips
  • Zest of 1 orange, cut into thin slivers
  • 8 California Dried Figs, stems removed, quartered

Optional for Serving

  • Warm corn or flour tortillas
  • Steamed rice
  • Avocado slices
  • Salsa
  • Lime wedges
  • Queso fresco
  • Cilantro sprigs


  1. Place the pork pieces in a pot, such as a Dutch oven, with the garlic cloves, orange, bay leaves, Guajillo chiles, and black peppercorns.  Add just enough water to cover the ingredients.  Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pot with a lid that is slightly ajar to allow for the steam to escape.  Alternatively, the pot can be loosely covered with aluminum foil. Cook the pork over low heat for 2 hours or until tender. Transfer the cooked meat to a bowl.

  2. Preheat the broiler to high.

  3. Combine maple syrup, olive oil, orange juice, chipotle, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well.  Pour the marinade over the cooked pork pieces and stir to coat while gently breaking up and shredding the pork.

  4. Add the onion, poblano peppers, orange peel, and figs to the bowl with the pork and stir together.  Transfer all of the ingredients to a full-size rimmed sheet pan.

  5. Broil until the pork is caramelized and the onions and poblano peppers are lightly cooked, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve with the garnishes of your choice.


  1. To create strips of orange peel, use a vegetable peeler or cocktail garnish tool to remove the orange zest in large pieces then cut into thin strips.

  2. The pork can also be cooked in the oven.  Place the pork tightly in a casserole dish.  Add a little oil and water and cover with foil.  Start the pork in a 350F oven then lower the heat to 275F and cook for 2 hours.  The pork juices should accumulate in the dish.  The pork can be cooked a day or two ahead of time and marinated and broiled when needed.