Mexican Themed Luncheon for 45 – Delicious Carnitas Recipe

Mexican Themed Luncheon for 45 – Delicious Carnitas Recipe

Time to cook for folks at church again!! We were having a presentation from The High Museum on their current exhibit Frida and Diego. With that, we decided on a Mexican themed lunch. This would make a fantastic meal for a Cinco de Mayo menu idea, especially if on a budget. I made all of this for $150 ($3 per person).

The menu consisted of:

Pork Carnitas with all the fixings
Black Beans
Yellow Rice
Fruit and Cake Parfait with Cinnamon Tres Leches Cream


The pork carnitas I’ve made several times. I found this recipe years ago from David Lebovitz and go back to it every time. It is just the way I like it. For today, I did not use the ancho chili powder to help cut down on the spiciness for this group. It was still delicious.

Black Beans and Yellow Rice – This was not rocket science, really! For 45 people, we went through about 150oz of black beans and 4 family size bags of yellow rice. I cooked the rice as directed. For the beans, I sautéed a couple of onions and 6-8 cloves of garlic and added 4 of the small cans of mild, diced green chilies.

Parfait with Tres Leches – As I researched good Mexican themed desserts, I found this one on Better Homes and Garden list of top Mexican desserts. Since I was not going to make Flan for 50 or fry churros for 50, I thought this would be a good fit and it was very well received!! I used store bought pound cake and left off the whipped cream too for both simplification and cost savings.



For 45 people, I bought 16.5lbs of boneless pork shoulder (aka pork butt) so I essentially quadrupled everything in David’s recipe. However, I did leave out the ancho chili powder. The pork I got at Costco, what a deal it was!

Pork Carnitas

Easy carnitas recipe


I cut the meat and salted it about 4 hours before searing the meat which I did in batches (lots of batches!) the night before.


And don’t forget to deglaze the pan if you are not going to do the braising in the same pot. Lots of flavor on the bottom.

How to deglaze

The next morning I started the braising at home at about 7:30 for 2 hours and got it started again in the church kitchen at about 9:45, turning at least once an hour.


At 11:00, we shredded the pork and put it back in the oven in the cooking liquid until noon. Perfect!


Carnitas Fixings

For this I put out bowls of the following for everyone to add as they wished:
– Lime wedges (critical with carnitas to squeeze on top!)
– Cilantro
– Sour Cream (I actually used 0% Greek Yogurt because it is guilt free and tastes great)
– Salsa verde
– Red salsa
– Mexican Queso Blanco (crumbling cheese)

Black Beans and Yellow Rice

At 10:00 the morning of, I sautéed the onion and garlic. Added the chilies and the beans and let simmer for 2 hours.


I bought the large flour tortillas at Costco, cut them in half (figuring most of this crowd would not want to make tacos), fanned them out on a large sheet tray, covered with a wet paper towel and heated in the oven for about 7 minutes just before serving.

Parfait with Tres Leches

I made the Tres Leches cream the night before so it would have time to cool. I had never made tres leches but it was super simple and super delicious!!

How to make tres leches

I cut the strawberries and washed the blackberries and blueberries the morning of. I bought two of the 3-pack pound cakes at Costco and cut them into cubes. We then assembled them in clear plastic cups (layer of cake, layer of fruit, layer of cake, layer of fruit, topped with tres leches) and put in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I also added a side bowl of toasted coconut to sprinkle on top for those that like coconut.


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