Eastern Carolina BBQ Carnitas + Corn Empanadas

Eastern Carolina BBQ Carnitas + Corn Empanadas

A few weeks ago I happened upon a tray of vinegary Eastern North Carolina BBQ, leftover from a dear friend’s wedding, and with the plethora of sweet Silver Queen corn stored in my freezer I had to make something. Finally! I had an excuse to try out a few gluten-free recipes. Since the laborious task of cooking of the pork was already done, I threw it in a pot with carnitas-inspired spices before tossing it on a baking sheet and into the oven to give it that iconic carnitas crisp. Mixed some of my Silver Queen stash in with it and I had a huge batch of tasty filling to stuff into GF pockets.

I used this filling while testing out a variety of GF doughs. You can read about that experiment here!

 GF Empanada Dough


  • 1 lb. pulled pork
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 large orange rind zests
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 2 ears sweet corn, shaved off the cob
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Olive oil, spices and garlic went into my dutch oven over medium heat to bloom for a few minutes until fragrant. I added the pulled pork, about 1-2 cups of water, orange zest and orange juice, brought it to a low simmer and let all the liquid cook off. I added salt and pepper to taste.

As the pork steeped in the spices and the liquid cooked off, I set my oven to 350°F. Once the liquid was gone, I spread the entire contents of the dutch oven onto a baking sheet coated with olive oil, then placed it in the oven for about 40 minutes, or just until the pork started to crisp. I removed the orange zests after taking it out of the oven.  

I microwaved the frozen corn at 4 minutes per ear, 8 minutes total, then cut off the bottom ends and shook the cobs out of their husks. Be careful to not burn yourself! After letting them cool a few minutes so I could handle them, I cut the corn off the cob.

As the pork crisps up in the oven, you can make a GF dough of your choice! I loved using both Sandra Gutierrez’s Cornmeal and Cassava Flour dough and the King Arthur Gluten-Free Pie Crust with this filling.

Vareniki with QKatie

Vareniki with QKatie

Cornmeal + Cassava Gluten-Free Empanada Dough

Cornmeal + Cassava Gluten-Free Empanada Dough