Bobby's Chicken Carnitas

Instead of frying the schnitzel, we bake them in the oven to avoid the calories and fat from oil, and use a cornflake breading to get them extra crispy.

TOTAL TIME: 3 hr 30 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Inactive Prep: 30 min
Cook: 1 hr 30 min
YIELD: 8 burgers
LEVEL: Difficult


  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced Vidalia onion
  • 4 to 6 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (2- to 2.5-ounces each), fat removed
    • 4 egg white
    • 1 cup rice flour
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 3 cups cornflakes, crushed
      recipe tools


      Special equipment: a 4-inch piece cheesecloth and butcher twine

      For the chicken carnitas: Make a bouquet garni by wrapping the coriander, parsley, thyme and bay leaves in cheesecloth and tying it off with butcher twine.

      In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, paprika, cumin, kosher salt and black pepper. Rub it on the chicken thighs and set aside.

      In a stockpot on medium high heat, add the olive oil and onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

      Add the chicken stock, orange juice, lime juice and liquid smoke to the pot.

      Place the spiced chicken in the pot and add enough water to cover the chicken (up to 1 1/2 cups). Add the bouquet garni, cover with a lid and cook on medium until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool.

      Discard the bouquet garnis. Strain the liquid in the pot and reserve the strained ingredients in a bowl. Take the strained liquid and place it back into the pot and simmer until reduced by three-quarters. When the chicken has cooled to the touch, remove the chicken from the bone, and using 2 forks, shred the meat. Mix the shredded meat with the strained ingredients in a bowl. Take the reduced liquid and mix it with the shredded chicken.

      For the chicken schnitzel: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut each chicken thigh in half lengthwise. Lightly whisk the egg whites and set up a breading station, putting the rice flour and black pepper in one bowl and the corn flakes in another bowl. Dredge each chicken thigh in the rice flour mixture. Then dip the chicken into the egg whites. Finally, roll the chicken into the crushed cornflakes. Place on a sheet pan with a cooling rack and bake until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

      For the pepperoncini relish: In a bowl, mix together the cucumber, parsley, oil, mustard, peppers and pickling liquid.

      For the cilantro-avocado yogurt aioli: In a blender, mix the avocado, yogurt, lime juice, cilantro and salt until creamy. With the blender running, slowly add the avocado and canola oil until smooth and creamy. Add up to 1/4 cup water if you would like a less thick aioli.

      For the BBQ mustard: In a small saucepan on medium heat, add the mustard, apple cider vinegar, light brown sugar, butter, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the BBQ mustard to the bowl of shredded chicken carnitas and toss to coat.

      To make the sandwiches: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bacon on a cooling rack set in a sheet pan and bake until cooked, 15 to 18 minutes. In a nonstick saute pan on medium heat, add half the clarified butter and melt. Place 4 whole-wheat buns in the pan to toast, flip and toast both side. Repeat with the remaining buns and butter.

      For the build (working from the bottom to top): Place some chicken carnitas on the bottom of a whole-wheat bun. Place the schnitzel on top of the carnitas. Add 1 piece of butter lettuce, 1 tomato slice and 1 slice of bacon. On the top piece of the whole-wheat bun, smear the avocado aioli and add 1 tablespoon of the pepperoncini relish. Top the sandwich with the smeared bun. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.


      The buns can be smeared with the clarified butter and toasted under the broiler for 1 minute.
      Avocados are a source of monounsaturated fats, the heart-healthy ones that help lower cholesterol. They are cholesterol-free, and low in saturated fat.
      Whole-wheat buns are a better alternative than white ones because they contain more dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Be sure to look for buns that are made with 100-percent whole-wheat flour.
      Nutritional Analysis
      per burger: 550 calories; 29g fat (9g saturated fat); 145mg cholesterol; 1010mg sodium; 39g protein; 36g carbohydrates; 8g sugar; 5g fiber
      %DV: Calcium 8%, Iron 20%, Vitamin A 20%, Vitamin C 30%.

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