Monday, November 13, 2017

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) Tacos

menumusings.com
Carnitas, literally meaning "little meats," is a dish of Mexican cuisine originating from the state of Michoacán.  Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich "boston butt" or "picnic ham" cuts of pork. The whole roast is typically cut down to a workable size and seasoned heavily before slow braising or deep frying.  Traditional carnitas are made by a process of simmering the meat in lard in a heavy bottomed pot until tender over a very low heat. Once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. At this stage, the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver. The meat can then be used as an ingredient in tamales, tacos, tortas, and burritos.  

I don't know about y'all, but I'm a little past the age where I can comfortably look at a recipe that simmers my meat in lard without making "that face" that means "Oh God, how long would I need to workout after eating THAT?!"  Soooo.... let's take this awesome carnitas recipe and give it a healthy makeover.  And while we're at it, who has time to stand over an outdoor pot simmering a long-cooking recipe?  What if you could put this on in the morning before you leave for work and finish it up when you walk in?  Yep.  Let's try that direction.   This would also totally work for your #mealprep if you are in a group because you could pull some and freeze some.  The recipe is #glutenfree if you use a gluten free soy sauce.  


Ingredients:  Serves 8-10 
menumusings.com

  • 4 pound pork shoulder 
    • may be called pork butt, trimmed of excess fat
    • I buy the bone-in pork shoulder because it's less expensive and I think more flavorful 
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
    • ~ 1 large lime 
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion rough chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper 
    • cut large so you can pull it out later for mild heat
    • or
    • chopped fine for more heat

Wet Spice Rub
  • 3 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder for more smoky heat
    • or  sub 1 tsp mild chili powder for milder heat
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked or spanish paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Step-by-Step:
For the bargain price of $1.00/lb, you really can't beat this price for a quality protein!  Most "slow cooking" proteins are less expensive. You cook them low and slow and allow time to do the work of breaking down the collagenous fibers for you, and then the meat just literally falls apart.  As a bonus, look how much money I saved by using my WinnDixie card!  Haha!  practically half off.  That's 4 pounds of meat for the price of a drive through meal! 
4 pound bone-in pork shoulder
The disadvantage of the slow cooker is that you don't get that good sear on a piece of meat, so let's do that real quick first on the stovetop.   Heat 1 Tbsp EVOO over high heat in a large, heavy bottom skillet.  Sear the pork on all sides until beautifully browned.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board until it is cool enough to handle.
1 Tbsp EVOO
4 pounds pork shoulder
While the pork is searing (it does take a few minutes), let's throw together the "wet rub."  Just throw all the seasoning together and mix.
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (smokier and spicier)
(or mild chili powder - mild)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Spanish paprika (or smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
(available in regular, reduced sodium, and gluten free versions)
2 Tbsp tomato paste 
3 Tbsp EVOO
When the pork is cool enough to handle, you can put it in the slow cooker and rub the wet rub all over the surface of the pork.  (I felt it was easier to show these steps while it was NOT in the slow cooker.)

Seared pork with the wet rub.
Add the orange juice, lime juice, liquid smoke, bay leaves, onions and jalapeños to the slow cooker.
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 large lime)
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 bay leaves
1 onion, rough chopped
1 jalapeño pepper
- seeded and rough chopped so you can pull it out later (mild heat)
or
- finely chopped (more heat)
And we are ready, set, GO!  Set your cooker on LOW for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 5-6 hours.  Personally, I like my pork to be literally falling apart, so I'm going for 6 every time, I can't lie.  At this point, the pork should be falling off of the bone and should shred easily with two forks.  
After 6 hours on high.
At this point you can either put the pork in the fridge to finish later (or freeze it), or continue.  If you are continuing with the shredded pork, preheat your oven to 450F.  Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Remove the shredded pork from the slow cooker and spread onto the lined baking sheets with as much of the juice as you'd like.  Bake at 450F until meat is desired amount of crispiness with "burnt" edges.  They really aren't burnt, but my family really does love that crispy, caramelized edge that resembles what you might have on an open pit.  You may need to move them around with a spatula.  This may take anywhere from 15minutes (straight from the hot slow cooker) to 30 minutes (if you put the carnitas in the refrigerator).  
Coming out of the oven with "burnt" and crispy edges.  Mmmmm!
Serve your "burnt edge" carnitas as taco filling with tortillas,  as a Mexican salad, on nachos for game day, in burritos, on brown or cauliflower rice for a low carb  meal prep... the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!  

The Pork Carnitas Tacos pictured below are served with low carb whole wheat tortillas (4 net grams carbs each) (Mission CarbBalance brand), tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, jalapeños, Cacique queso fresco, Cacique crema Mexicana, Herdez guacamole salsa.
menumusings.com
Pork Carnita Tacos
*Not sponsored by any of the above brands.  I just put the brand names on there to be helpful.  :) 

To order the Menu Musings Cookbook - 
Yes, the holidays are right around the corner!  This would be a fantastic gift for someone you love! 
Click HERE to check it out!  This page will give you more information about it. 

Bonus Recipes -
Left Over Pot Roast Pot Pies - What to do when you have leftover pot roast!  Mmmm.
menumusings.com

Oreo Heath Bar Cake - Irresistible!  Festive and super easy! 
menumusings.com

Chicken Piccata with Sun Dried Tomatoes - Have Italian night YOUR way at home.  Quick and easy!
menumusings.com

Spicy Fried Cauliflower Bites - A fun and unexpected appetizer or simple side.  
menumusings.com

Mardi Gras Pasta - super easy, kid friendly, sneaks in veggies, and pasta stretches the budget!  
menumusings.com


Written Method -
The disadvantage of the slow cooker is that you don't get that good sear on a piece of meat, so let's do that real quick first on the stovetop.   Heat 1 Tbsp EVOO over high heat in a large, heavy bottom skillet.  Sear the pork on all sides until beautifully browned.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board until it is cool enough to handle.

While the pork is searing (it does take a few minutes), let's throw together the "wet rub."  Just throw all the seasoning together and mix.  When the pork is cool enough to handle, you can put it in the slow cooker and rub the wet rub all over the surface of the pork.  

Add the orange juice, lime juice, liquid smoke, bay leaves, onions and jalapeños to the slow cooker.  And we are ready, set, GO!  Set your cooker on LOW for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 5-6 hours.  Personally, I like my pork to be literally falling apart, so I'm going for 6 every time, I can't lie.  At this point, the pork should be falling off of the bone and should shred easily with two forks.  

At this point you can either put the pork in the fridge to finish later (or freeze it), or continue.  If you are continuing with the shredded pork, preheat your oven to 450F.  Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Remove the shredded pork from the slow cooker and spread onto the lined baking sheets with as much of the juice as you'd like.  Bake at 450F until meat is desired amount of crispiness with "burnt" edges.  They really aren't burnt, but my family really does love that crispy, caramelized edge that resembles what you might have on an open pit.  You may need to move them around with a spatula.  This may take anywhere from 15minutes (straight from the hot slow cooker) to 30 minutes (if you put the carnitas in the refrigerator).  

Serve your "burnt edge" carnitas as taco filling with tortillas,  as a Mexican salad, on nachos for game day, in burritos, on brown or cauliflower rice for a low carb  meal prep... the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

In-Article Adsense