Duck Carnitas Tacos

Day PartDinner, Lunch
Menu PartEntree
Cuisine TypeMexican

Chef Aaron Sanchez
Johnny Sanchez Restaurants
New Orleans and Baltimore

Johnny Sanchez Restaurant serves up authentic Mexican cuisine with a twist. To transform duck into meltingly-tender carnitas, the chef braises the legs with the tangy juice from fresh oranges accented by Mexican cinnamon. Instead of traditional tomato salsa, the tacos are topped with pico de gallo made with crisp and colorful red and green grapes mixed with jalapeno, cilantro and onion.


Grape pico de gallo
2 cups red grapes, medium dice
2 cups green grapes, medium dice
1/4 diced red onion
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, diced
2 limes, juiced
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Duck carnitas
3 lbs. duck legs
1 med. Spanish onion, diced
5 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 thyme stems
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 oranges, cut in quarters (with rind)

To build tacos
Duck meat
Duck fat
12 warm corn tortillas, 4-6 inches in size
Grape pico de gallo
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges


1. For grape pico de gallo: In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
2. For duck carnitas: Preheat oven to 300 F. In baking dish, place duck legs, diced onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and cinnamon. Squeeze juice from oranges over baking dish, then add in rinds. Cover with foil and bake in oven at 300 F for 2 1/2 hours or until meat falls off bone. Remove from oven and let cool.
3. Remove legs from cooking liquid; strain liquid and reserve in refrigerator. Remove meat from bones and shred using two forks. After cooking liquid has cooled down, skim the duck fat that rose to top and set aside.
4. In large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons reserved duck fat. When hot, add half the chopped duck meat; sear duck meat for about 2 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. To assemble, place seared meat on warm corn tortillas and top with pico de gallo and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Photo courtesy of California Table Grape Commission

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