Fiery Bottom BBQ Pork Bowl as Served at Calafia Cafe in Palo Alto, California, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Season 28.
Recipe courtesy of Calafia Cafe and Market A Go-Go

Calafia Citrus Carnitas

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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 13 hr (includes marinating time)
  • Active: 2 hr
  • Yield: 24 servings


Calafia Carnitas Rub:

Citrus Carnitas:

Calafia House-Made Ketchup:

Calafia Hot Sauce:


  1. For the rub: Place the chile powder, ginger powder, salt, cumin powder, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves in a food processor and process until the cinnamon sticks are completely pulverized into powder.
  2. For the carnitas: After you've made the carnitas rub, apply it to the 5 portioned pieces of pork shoulder. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat the convection oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Heat a heavy-bottomed large braising pot and add the oil. Just before the oil reaches the smoking point, carefully add in the pork shoulder pieces, one piece at a time. Careful not to crowd the meat -- you want it to cook evenly brown all around and get a good caramelization on the meat, turning it as little as possible. If your braising pot is too small for all 5 pieces at once, do it in small batches, eventually transferring everything into another pot which will go into the oven.
  5. Once the pork is browned evenly, remove and set aside on a baking sheet.
  6. While the pan is still hot, add the onions into the same pan and sweat down. Then add in your garlic and bay leaves and cook for about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the beer, using a wooden spoon to scrape and release all the tasty browned bits of porky goodness. Reduce the beer by half, and then add in the orange juice. Bring to a boil, return the pork to the braising pot followed by the orange halves, cover the pot and place into the oven. Cook until the pork is tender and pulls apart easily, about 3 1/2 hours.
  7. Reserve the pork braising liquid which you can use to heat the pulled pork back up before you add the BBQ sauce to it.
  8. For the house-made ketchup: Mix the water and vinegar together in a large bowl.
  9. Mix the tomato paste with the honey, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cayenne and garlic powder in a large heavy-bottomed non-reactive saucepot. Mix in the liquids. Whisk everything together over medium heat on your stove top. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and allow to simmer 1 1/2 hours. Taste for salt balance, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. This is the first part of the Calafia BBQ sauce.
  10. For the Calafia hot sauce: Combine the tomato paste, water, tamarind paste, orange juice, pinot noir, vinegar, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, carrots, celery, onions habaneros, jalapenos, chipotles, ginger, brown sugar, coriander and cumin in a large heavy-bottomed non-reactive saucepot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  11. Transfer the mixture to a high-powered blender and puree until ultra-smooth. Pass the hot sauce through a fine mesh strainer and taste for salt balance.
  12. To make the Calafia BBQ sauce you combine 2/3 of the Calafia house-made ketchup to 1/3 of the Calafia hot sauce. If you like your sauce spicier, you can always add more hot sauce to the ketchup.
  13. Once you've blended your sauces together well, introduce the sauce to the braised and pulled pork. Mix small amounts of pork to sauce until you've achieved the saucy desired delicious porky consistency.
  14. Now your pork is sauced and ready serve over steamed organic brown rice, sauteed organic baby spinach and roasted yams.