Making Carnitas
Part 1

Carnitas is deep fried pork ribs and shoulder.  Often this fried meat is shredded for use in a variety of dishes.  The shredded meat is properly called deshebrada although some folks here continue to call it carnitas.  Pork is more popular in this area than beef.  There are several carnitas shops in Lerdo.  This one is my favorite.  I come here for ribs almost every Saturday.

I came early on Thursday morning to photograph my friends Tońo and Jesús as they prepare for the weekend sales.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the big days in a carnitas shop.

One the three pigs in the holding pen behind the shop is selected to be this weekend's carnitas.

Amid very loud squealing, the pig is held on her side as Jesús swiftly plunges a knife into the heart.  A few seconds later all is quite.

I was surprised by the very small amount of blood visible in this whole process of killing and butchering.

The pig is moved to the butchering table under the shed by the old fig tree where Tońo begins by removing the skin.  He removes the skin in one whole piece.

With the skin free, he makes an incision the length of the belly to expose the guts.


Everything inside the pig is removed.  The guts, heart, liver and stomach are saved to be cleaned and used later.

The head is removed to be sold uncooked for use in making pozole and tamales.

The skinned, gutted, beheaded carcass is hung ready to be cut in half with a large hacksaw.

The saved guts and other organs are hung nearby to await cleaning.


Jesús begins by removing the lower backbone  (espinazo).  This will be sold uncooked.  It is a prime meat for pozole soup.  This one I bought.

When the carcass has been halved, the pieces are moved inside the shop where they are further cut into easy-to-handle pieces and placed in a large refrigerator.  Cooking will start early tomorrow morning. 

On the table are the four feet and the backbone which will be cut into inch thick slices that I will take home for today's pozole lunch.

Continue to Part 2 - Cooking 
Jump to Part 3 - Chicharrones
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