Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

This morning at school, I ran into a friend who mentioned that she had made some very yummy pulled pork sandwiches using a method similar to my Suit Yourself Chicken Sandwiches.  She just seasoned up a pork roast and let it cook slowly, shredded it, and served it for dinner.  Her husband and children gobbled it right up!  She seemed pleasantly surprised that something so easy could result in something so tasty.  Welcome to my world of cooking, Friend!  I love those kinds of dishes where it appears that you've spent lots of time and money when really you have not.

Hearing her share her dinner delights, reminded me of another family favorite that is super easy to fix in the crock pot.  Pork Carnitas is one of my middle daughter's favorite meals.  I had made a HUGE batch right before Christmas, and we finished it off a few weeks ago.  I'm sure it will be making the rounds on our weekly meal plan before too long, but I didn't have anything else earth shattering to share today, so I thought I'd pass along this easy recipe even though I don't have accompanying pictures.  This one doesn't photograph too well anyway with my novice photography skills as it's shades of brown.

I created this simple dish one day when I was going to fix shredded BBQ pork. But when I went to the freezer, I realized that I did not have any buns.  I only had tortillas, and then my wheels starting turning.  I remembered seeing a recipe for "pork carnitas" in a magazine and I thought I could probably come up with something similar using the ingredients I had on hand.  I'm not sure these are anywhere close to authentic pork carnitas, but I can tell you that they are very yummy, inexpensive, and super easy to fix.  Since that day, they have become a regular request on our weekly meal plan.

This recipe uses just two simple ingredients:
*about 3 lb. or more pork shoulder/butt roast (often cut and labeled "Western Ribs" here in central Ohio; aim to pay less than $1.79/lb)
*taco seasoning (homemade or store bought)

Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of your slow cooker, about 1 Tbsp.  If you don't do this when you slow cook meat in your crock pot, you need to start doing this simple step.  It makes a big difference in the taste of your meat.  It gives it a whole new depth of flavor. 

Season the meat liberally with your homemade or store bought taco seasoning.  Rub it into both sides of the meat.  Your hands will get all yucky, so make sure you put the seasoning into a small bowl so you can just reach into the bowl and sprinkle on more as you need it.

Place the meat in the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours until meat is fork tender. 

Shred meat with fork and mix with the juices in the crock pot.  Pull out any bones or fat. 

Return to slow cooker to keep warm until time to eat.

Serve shredded pork in warmed tortillas and top with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes/salsa, avacado/guacamole, and sour cream.  We also like to have a side of rice and a fruit salad.  We've also eaten this on tostada shells which are kind of a fun change from soft tortillas.  We like them best with wheat tortillas over the white ones.  The sweetness of the wheat compliments the pork.

Sometimes I add pinto beans to the cooked meat.  Not only does this stretch the meat into more meals, it increases our fiber intake.  The kids never seem to notice the beans mixed in there.  I have bags of cooked beans in my freezer that I just pull out and add to the crock pot after the meat is cooked, but you could also use a can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained. 

I try to look for "boneless western ribs".  I can usually find these at Meijer, but they are a little trickier to find at Kroger.  I have also used the large pork loin roast, but honestly the cheaper cuts with a little more fat marbling through them make for more tender shredded meat.  If you use the more lean roast, you might need to add a 2-3 Tbsp of water when you cook the roast.

What's your favorite way to slow cook pork?

1 comment:

  1. I make pork Carnitas like this with my mexican spices, and I add a jar of RoTel for the extra juice and green chili's