I’ll be totally honest: I didn’t really like or eat Mexican food until a few years ago. Because I turned up my nose at basically the entire cuisine, I didn’t make a point of knowing a lot about it, which is why I had no idea what carnitas were when I saw this recipe on Pinch of Yum the other week. But man, it looked good. I wanted it in my face. So we made it! If you’re like me and don’t know what carnitas are, I’ll steal the Wikipedia definition for you:
Carnitas, literally “little meats,” are a type of braised or roasted (often after first being fried) pork in Mexican cuisine.
But there’s no braising, roasting, or frying here. This method is so easy—my boyfriend just threw everything in the slow cooker during the day, and when I came home, we broiled the meat and assembled tacos. Super simple.
The original recipe said that the yield was 10-12 servings, but we got twice that amount out of a 4.25 lb. pork shoulder. When using it as an element of a dish rather than the centerpiece, a 3-ounce serving is plenty. This recipe makes a whole lot of pork, and we used the leftovers in all kinds of dishes. Since these carnitas are so versatile, it would be great to make a big batch at the beginning of the week and use the leftovers throughout the week.
You could use the meat on top of some rice and beans, or on top of a taco salad. I even made a killer breakfast burrito and a porktastic grilled cheese with it. Thousands of possibilities. Or you can just eat tacos for days. I won’t judge. I’ll also have a recipe coming up (also from Pinch of Yum) that makes use of the leftovers. No matter how you eat it, this stuff is super tasty: savory, packed with flavor, a little spicy, tender, with some crisp edges. Just. So. Good.
Slow Cooker Carnitas
Slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum
Yield: 24 3-oz. servings
- 4-5 lbs. pork shoulder
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (optional)
- Juice of 2 limes
- ½ cup orange juice
- 12 ounces beer
- ½ cup salsa
- Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Roughly chop the garlic and place in the slow cooker .
- Sprinkle the meat with salt, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne, and paprika. Rub seasonings onto the pork.
- Add lime juice, orange juice, beer, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.
- Shred meat with two forks directly in the slow cooker (or take out, shred, and replace in sauce). It should fall apart easily.
- Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the shredded meat on the cooking sheet and pour a few spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until you get browned edges on the pork.
Serving suggestions: in tortillas with taco fixings, on top of rice and beans, in a taco salad, on a grilled sandwich, in an egg scramble or hash
Nutrition facts are based on a 4.5 lb. pork shoulder with serving size of 3 oz.