Monday, January 7, 2013


I love carnitas!! There's a Chipotle a few blocks from my office and I can't resist a rice bowl with carnitas and tons of hot sauce. I finally decided to make my own. It's probably healthier and I can freeze some for leftovers (not that "healthy" is the first word I would use to describe eating a MOUNTAIN OF MEAT).  I made this in my slow cooker.  The pork shoulder pulled apart very easily; it was so tender.  I will definitely make this again!  I didn't think ahead and so I had nothing to serve it with except salad.  Ideally, I'd use this as a filling for tacos or enchiladas.  The fresh orange juice and Mexican oregano added both sweet and savory components.  The flavor was mild and a squeeze of fresh lime juice really brought it all together.  I added some cheddar cheese and made a quick approximation of pico de gallo with a random tomato, lime, and some left over red onion from last week.

I adapted this recipe slightly by making a sauce.  After removing the meat from the slow cooker, there was a lot of liquid and onion left over. I pureed it all with my immersion blender and ladled a bit of it into a small pan and simmered it until it thickened a bit. I added some lime juice, salt, and pepper and served it on the side as a sauce.  It was a very mild sauce, but had enough onion and orange flavor to go nicely with the meat.  I think a nice tomatillo salsa would work better.

I used Mexican oregano instead of regular oregano.  It's a bit earthier and stronger.  It looks a little different in the jar because the leaves are bigger.

I cooked the meat on the high setting for four hours.  I was busy watching the Redskins get their butts kicked and so it sat on the warm setting for an additional 30 minutes.  I decided not to fry the carnitas at the end to make this dish a little healthier.

Pork Carnitas
From Food Network
Makes ~ 4 lbs of carnitas

4 lbs boneless pork shoulder (or a little more if the meat is bone-in)
Lots of salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp Mexican oregano (regular is ok)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded, ribbed, and chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 oranges, cut in half and juiced (keep the halves)

1) Rinse and dry the pork shoulder.  Salt and pepper liberally.  I mean a lot.  If you think you've done too much that's probably about right.  Mix the cumin, oregano, and olive oil and rub it all over the pork.  I did both of these things with the pork already inside the slow cooker.

2) Top meat with onion, garlic, and jalapeno.  Pour the orange juice over everything and then place the orange halves on top, cut sides down.

3) Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or for 8 to 10 hours on low.

4) Remove meat from slow cooker and let it cool a little.  Then pull it apart and serve in a manner of your choosing.

Optional Pan Sauce
Original recipe

The stuff left in the slow cooker
Juice of 1 lime

1) Get a slotted spoon and fish out any remaining bits of meat.  Using an immersion blender, puree the contents of the slow cooker.

2) Ladle some of the puree into a small pan and heat until simmering.  Simmer the sauce until it reaches the desired degree of thickness (about 5 minutes for me) and then stir in the lime juice.

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