Poblano Carnitas on Goat Cheese Polenta

Nothing says comfort food like carnitas to this Texas girl. If you are not familiar with the term carnitas, it’s basically pork butt slow roasted in lard with a little spice. Unfortunately, I do not have pounds of lard around at the time being and when that happens, I use beer or chicken stock.

Poblano Carnitas on Goat Cheese Polenta is by far one of my favorite meals and a top choice meal to entertain with because I can cook the meat the day before a party and only have the polenta to cook the day of. Also good for an everyday meal the leftover carnitas make great tacos. Rich, savory, and insanely tender, the spices and flavor of these poblano carnitas elegantly blend with the creamy tangy goat cheese polenta for an unforgettable meal.

*Poblano peppers are known for their very mild heat. For entertaining I will add a serrano pepper or use roasted Anaheim (Hatch chilies) in place of the poblano peppers to kick it up a notch. But if my daughter is eating this meal, and it is one of her favorites, I make sure the poblanos are mild before using and cut back to 2 instead of 3.

Poblano Carnitas on Goat Cheese Polenta serves 6 to 8

for the carnitas:

  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 to 4 pound pork butt roast (Boston or sholder)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth or Mexican lager
  • chopped cilantro and diced tomatoes for garnish (optional)

for the polenta:
Polenta recipe adapted from The Cooking Of Italy circa 1950s

  • 4 1/2 cups water plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 4 ounces (weight) goat cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325° F. Slice the poblano peppers in half and remove the seeds. Slice the poblanos in 1/2 inch rings.

Peel and slice the onion into rings as well.

Peel and coarsely chop the garlic. Set poblanos, onions, and garlic aside.

Combine salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder in a small bowl and rub onto the entire roast.

In a large dutch oven or stew pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat and place the roast in the pot. Sear for 5 to 8 minutes a side until browned on all sides.

Once the meat is browned, add the chicken broth or beer, poblanos, onion, and garlic on top of the pork roast. Holy moly that smells good. Cover and place in the oven for 4 hours. Yeah, I know it sounds like forever (like the government settling on the debt ceiling kind of forever) but it’s worth it.

This is the point where you can let it cool and set it in the fridge overnight if you are entertaining the next day. But if you are planning on serving right away, set it aside and let it cool off a bit.

Once the meat has cooled but still warm, remove it from the pot and set on a cutting board or plate. Leave juice, peppers, and onions in the pot. With a fork shred the meat into large bite sized pieces. It’s ok, I know you want to take a bite. Go ahead….. I was right wasn’t I? That’s what heaven must taste like. Return carnitas to the pot with the poblanos, stir, and cover to keep warm.

For the polenta: In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Once the water is boiling, slowly add the cornmeal to the water in small amounts while whisking (with a whisk). Once all of the cornmeal is in the water, reduce the heat to medium-low and moderately whisk for 15 minutes. Tip: before you start your polenta, make sure everything else you are serving is complete, there’s some good music or a TV show on, a guest in the kitchen and most importantly a good glass of wine in arms reach. This makes the 15 minutes of continuous whisking go by much faster.

Once the 15 minutes is up and you have a beautiful creamy polenta, stir in olive oil, and goat cheese. Taste and add salt if needed.

Serve immediately by spooning a portion of the goat cheese polenta on a plate and place the poblano carnitas with a spoonfull of drippings from the pot. Garnish with chopped cilantro and chopped tomatoes (optional).

Creamy, tangy, succulent and a little spicy, Poblano Carnitas on Goat Cheese Polenta will soon be a favorite of yours too. Enjoy.




  • Andrea @ Recipes For Divine Living

    These sound delicious, definitely gonna give em a try.

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch}

    YUM! I love carnitas! I could seriously eat them every single day!

  • Tickled Red

    Girl! That is one finger licking spoon devouring dish. Sign me up!

  • Stephen

    This would be great with the local farmer’s Market goat cheese!

    Goat cheese feta may work too, but with a different flavor profile.

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Exactly, Stephen! The Goat cheese is from Caprino Royal. The pork roast from is from 6J Ranch and the tomatoes are from the market as well but forgive me I can’t remember the vendor’s name.

      As for the feta, I’m sure it would work with polenta! Maybe as a base for a grilled chicken with a little olive tapenade spooned over. hmmm

  • Manuella

    LOVE this recipe! I made it the other night and my husband was very proud. Thanks for making me look good :)

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Awesome! I made it the other night with roasted hatch chilies intead of poblanos and fesh corn and parmesan cheese instead of the goat cheese in the polenta. It was even better! Give that one a try. Thanks for letting me know and I’m glad you liked it. The leftover carnitas make fantastic tacos! Cheers

  • Jessie Bentley

    I loved the sound of this recipe but I would up the chicken stock to about 3/4 cup, a very generous shake of salt in the polenta, and bring the time down to 3 1/2 hours. The meat was very tender and easy to shred but the peppers and onions burnt to a crisp. While the meat was salvageable I had to improvise and lost the flavor that the pepper and onions should have brought to the table. The polenta was also very bland despite using a very yummy herb goat cheese. Just a few suggestions but I will definitely try this again with some finagling.

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Thanks Jessie for sharing. I’ve never had that happened. Did you try covering the dish? A friend of mine who is a chef served this at a dinner party lately and he didn’t have that happen either. The reason I did not bump up the chicken stock is because carnitas mean pork slow roasted in it’s own juice. I add just a touch of stock to help this along. If I added too much stock you would have broiled pork. But obviously you are having trouble with this recipe so please adjust to your kitchen and style of cooking. That’s the whole point of the blog. Just inspiration and a few tips to get you to cook what you love. Cheers!

    • mark

      This is one of our family’s favorite meals. Exactly how it is! I have never had problems with it.

    • Manuella

      I just made this for the 3rd time and it did not dry out at all! I have always used a bone-in roast with a good amount of fat. LOVE IT.

  • Harper s

    This is by far one of my favorite recipes! I have made this 4 times for 4 seperate dinner parties and have not had 1 ounce left. bravo!

  • Jenny B

    I had the same problem with the poblano chiles and onions burning to a crisp. We even added a little extra stock along the way. It was cooked with the lid on also. But, my guess is that it could have something to do with the amount of fat in the cut of meat. Perhaps the leaner cuts do not release enough “juice” or fat. The meat was delicious though! I will definitely do again with just a few adjustments. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe!

  • Jodee Weiland

    This looks delicious! I love the polenta and cheese as well as the recipe for Poblano Carnitas. Thanks for sharing!

  • Themrsss

    This looks amazing! But I do not have a Dutch oven. Could I cook the meat in a slow cooker? Or is there an alternative to the Dutch oven?


    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Sure. Pretty much anything that you can braise can be made in a slow cooker. I do highly recomend searing the meat though to really get great flavor. Cheers!

  • Kim

    I love your blog, and slow cooked meats! The one time so far that I’ve slow-cooked a pork butt, there was so much fat in my slow cooker. It was tough to skim it, and I was just wondering if you had any good/easy techniques for preventing an excess of fat w/pork butts (I trimmed this one pretty well), or separating it after cooking? Any advice would be much appreciated!

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Thanks and great question! My best trick is one my mother taught me and that’s simply making it before hand, refigerating it, and skimming the solid fat off the top.

  • Sarah from Soymilk + Honey

    Just wanted to stop by and say that this is one of our favorite meals! We’ve made it several times and it’s always delicious. I’m getting hungry just looking at these pictures!

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