Sunday, October 27, 2013

Crockpot Pork Carnitas

Ever since I started grad school it's been harder and harder to find time to try out new recipes. Between work and school, resting my body and making sure I get enough sleep is my number one priority. I am not quite sure how I ever pulled all nighters or did what I did in college. Those were my younger years when I was wild and carefree. I know some of you are laughing, but it's true! I could never stay up til all hours and function on just three hours of sleep anymore. No way jose! Nevertheless, the crockpot has become one of my best friends. Well, it always has been been, but even more so nowadays. In fact, I have made a crockpot meal become part of my weekend routine. One of my favorite things to do is put something on Sunday morning or afternoon, let it do it's thing and have it ready to go for Monday night. After a long day of work and class on Monday, the last thing I want to do is come home and cook dinner - as bad as that sounds. So it's perfect to pull the meal out of the fridge all cooked the day before, heat up and eat. Plus, the captain enjoys it too. Win win.

Last weekend I knew I wanted to try something new and spice it up. Literally. I had come across a recipe for carnitas in the crockpot and for some reason, it was just calling my name. Plus, who doesn't love Mexican food, right? Even better, this recipe isn't fried like traditional carnitas is. Did you know it is traditionally fried after it's cooked? I just recently learned that and was kinda grossed out. Kinda sorta. Now the crockpot version is baked to give it that crispy fried texture, but we'll get to that later. Hang with me heref. This recipe couldn't be easier to prepare. Seriously. You'll first need to get yourself a 2-3 pound boneless pork shoulder. You shouldn't have any problem finding in your store and it should be right by the other big pieces of pork (mine was in a twine wrapping to keep it together, but you'll want to cut that off before placing in the crockpot). Once you have your pork, you'll rub it with a combination of spices (ie. cumin, oregano and chili powder) and then add the juice of one orange, one lime, a bit of red salsa and then a chopped onion, some garlic and jalapeno. Close the lid and let it look for about 8 hours and you will have the most tender and most delicious carnitas you've ever had. And just when you thought it was good, it gets better. Take pork out of the crockpot, shred it up and place it under the broiler to get those crunchy yummy edges. Let's be honest, those are the best parts.

You can serve this yummy pork in a taco, burrito or even a burrito bowl (which is my favorite way to enjoy it). Or even on a salad! No matter how serve it, I can promise you that you'll enjoy it. And in fact, it may become your favorite way to make carnitas. Even better, if you have leftovers, you can re purpose it by using the meat in homemade baked taquitos. Just roll the leftover meat into corn tortillas with a bit of cheese and onion and then either bake right away or freeze for another time. Freezer meals and the crockpot are a life saver for me these days. You should see our freezer. It's overflowing with goodness.

all seasoned up

add in the onion, garlic and jalapeno

don't forget the juices and salsa!

pulled and ready for the broiler

use that left over pork for taquitos!

 Crockpot Pork Carnitas (Handle the Heat)

2-3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup salsa

Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno to the slow cooker. Pour the lime juice, orange juice, and salsa into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until tender.

Shred the meat with two forks and return to slow cooker to combine with the leftover sauce inside. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the meat evenly over the sheet. Pour some of the sauce over the meat. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of the pork are browned.

This recipe is also great for a crowd - how yummy would this be for a pot luck or a homemade taco bar? Delish!

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