What Is a Pork Burrito?

Allison Boelcke

A burrito is a traditional Mexican dish made from a flour tortilla filled with beans, cheese, or meat. A common burrito variation is a pork burrito, with filling consisting of boneless pork that has been seasoned and then slow cooked in liquid until it is tender enough to pull apart and shred easily. This Mexican-style shredded pork is known as carnitas and may also be fried in lard after the slow cooking process in order to make the outside crispy and golden brown.

Carnitas are made from shredded pork, most often pork butt.
Carnitas are made from shredded pork, most often pork butt.

Although any type of large cut of boneless pork may be used in pork burrito filling, pork butt is the traditional cut of meat called for. Most recipes call for simmering the boneless pork in water, but other liquids, such as beef broth or beer, may also be used for a richer flavor. Onion, garlic, peppers, or other seasonings can be added along with the pork so it becomes infused with additional flavors as it cooks.

As with many Mexican dishes, the meat in a pork burrito is highly seasoned and flavorful.
As with many Mexican dishes, the meat in a pork burrito is highly seasoned and flavorful.

The traditional method for cooking the filling for a pork burrito is on a low temperature for an extended period of time. The boneless pork and other ingredients are simmered in a pot on the stove top over low heat or roasted in the oven. Many modern recipes for pork burritos include an option for cooking the pork in a slow cooker. The boneless pork is cooked to the point where it is falling apart and easily able to be shredded, which may take anywhere from three to 10 hours, and then can be quickly fried in lard to make the meat golden brown and crispy.

A pork burrito consists of seasoned pork, onion, garlic, and peppers.
A pork burrito consists of seasoned pork, onion, garlic, and peppers.

Many Mexican dishes consist of a bean, cheese, or meat, filling served in a tortilla, but each dish has a variation that makes it distinctive. Burritos tend to contain a larger amount of filling compared to other similar dishes, are folded in a manner to completely envelop the filling, and are not traditionally topped with a sauce or cooked any further before serving. A pork burrito is assembled by placing the pork filling down the center of a tortilla, and then folding over all the sides before rolling it up. Other ingredients, such as beans, cheese, rice, or grilled or sautéed vegetables, may be added along with the pork before rolling the tortilla.

Mexican style shredded pork that can be used in burritos is also called carnitas.
Mexican style shredded pork that can be used in burritos is also called carnitas.

A pork burrito may be served on its own, especially if it is purchased as a street food or as fast food. If it is being served as part of a complete meal, it may be accompanied with side dishes like refried beans or rice. Common garnishes for the burritos include lime wedges, sour cream, or avocado slices.

Many different cuts of pork can be used for pork burritos, but the traditional cut is pork butt.
Many different cuts of pork can be used for pork burritos, but the traditional cut is pork butt.

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