SERVES 8 to 12

The cooking part of this recipe takes about two to three hours, but at the end of that waiting period, you will be rewarded with caramel-brown, salty-tart, crispy pork that practically falls apart when you look at it. Isn’t that worth a few hours of bubbling atop the stove? And the seasonings! The cumin is rich and earthy, the cayenne adds just the right bite, and the citrus juice creates a deep, layered flavor while it slyly tenderizes the meat.


• 3–4 pounds pork shoulder, boneless or bone-in
• 1 rounded (!) tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder
• 1/2 tablespoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
• 1/2 cup lime juice
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• water


1. With a sharp knife, cut the pork shoulder into a few large chunks. You don’t want them bite-sized; I make mine about 3–4 inches across. Place the pork pieces in a large zipper storage bag.

2. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, garlic powder, salt, coriander, black pepper, and cayenne; mix with a fork. Add the spice blend to the bag, zip it closed, and shake assertively until all the pieces are coated with the spices. Feel free to add hips to the shaking action.

3. Place the pork in a large, deep pot. Pour the lime and lemon juice into the bottom of the pot, then add water to just cover the meat.

4. Place the pot on high heat and bring the water to a rip-roaring boil. When it’s rolling, reduce the heat to keep a steady, strong simmer with the pan uncovered. The liquid should bubble a fair amount but should not be at a vigorous boil. While it’s cooking, it will look like uninspired soup. Do not be discouraged! As the water evaporates, the powerful acidic qualities of the citrus juice tenderize the meat.

5. At about the 2-hour mark, check the pot. The water should be much lower and maybe even almost gone. Things are about to get interesting! Allow all the water to cook out of the pan, and watch as the meat magically fries and caramelizes in the pork fat and fruit juice. It is a thing of beauty, but now you need to pay attention so the alluring exterior doesn’t burn.

6. Carefully turn the hunks of meat—without shredding them—to brown on all sides, then remove the hunks to a plate and let them rest for 5 minutes before eating.