Crock-Pot Mexican Pork
Carnitas are delectable, especially when used as a filling for tacos, burritos or tamales. But, slow-cooking pork in lard or oil for four to five hours isn't a working mom's dream dinner from a scheduling or health perspective.
To get the flavor and pull-apart texture of carnitas without the hours of effort, turn to your trusty crock-pot or slow cooker. The cooker does the work for you, while you spend quality time at work or your kids' after-school practice.
The word "carnitas" actually means "little meats," so shredding the cooked pork is a must. Cuts of pork, such as a pork shoulder or the Boston butt listed below, lend themselves to long cooking in the crock-pot. The meat becomes tender, stewing in its own juices. The citrus flavoring is traditional and provides an acidic contrast to the unctuous meat.
The broiling tip adds a lot of texture and taste for minimal work. Plus, it gives you enough time to mix up a margarita to complement this tasty Mexican-inspired meal adapted from a recipe on the blog, Damn Delicious. If you don't use it to fill tacos, serve the stewed bits of pork topped with fresh cilantro, alongside flour tortillas and refried beans.
Total Time: 8 hours, 40 minutes| Prep Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 8
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 pounds Boston Butt, trimmed of excess fat
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 white onions, quartered
- Juice of 2 oranges
- Juice of 2 limes
- In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Rub this spice mixture all over the pork butt.
- In the bottom of a slow cooker, layer the onion and garlic. Place the seasoned pork on top of the vegetables and pour in the lime and orange juice.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 hours; alternatively, cook on high for 4 to 5 hours.
- Remove the pork butt from the slow cooker and shred it, using two forks. Return it to the pot with the cooking juices and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Cook on low for another 30 minutes.
Carnitas sometimes have delicate crispy pieces among the shredded meat. To create this, place the cooked, shredded meat on a baking sheet and broil for 3 to 4 minutes before serving.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.