When it comes to tacos, carnitas are at the top of my list of faves. Carnitas, which means "little meats" in Spanish, is a popular Mexican dish of roasted or braised pork that's then shredded. The key to creating authentic carnitas is to slow cook the pork roast, then crisp it up so you get a combination of tender, succulent meat as well as some crisp and crunchy bits. Perfect for Mexican-style street tacos!
The following recipe is from Stock the Crock, a new cookbook from Phillis Good, creator of the best-selling Fix-It and Forget-It series. In this must-have slow cooker cookbook you'll find 100 easy recipes for soups, stews and chowders, vegetarians and pasta mains, meat and seafood dishes, as well as side dishes and desserts. It also includes 200 handy variations for dietary needs, such as gluten-free, vegetarian or paleo, as well as size accommodations for one or two people. Get another delicious recipe from the book, 4-Cheese Artichoke Dip (and Pasta Sauce), here.
Screamin’ Good Carnitas by JB M.
Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 8 to 10 hours Crisping: 20 to 25 minutes
"This is a sure hit for any event. I have friends who served these carnitas at their big family Christmas get-together. People kept telling them all afternoon that they’d never enjoyed a Christmas dinner more!"
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4-pound boneless pork butt roast
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup orange juice
fresh tomatoes, chopped
red onion, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
sliced black olives
jalapeño chile slices
1. Grease the interior of the slow cooker crock with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork roast, holding it over the cooker so any get-away spices fall into the cooker. Lay the rubbed roast in the prepared crock.
3. Pour the chicken broth down along the sides of the cooker (you don’t want to wash off the rub). Lay in the bay leaves.
4. Cover. Cook on Low 8 to 10 hours, or until the pork shreds easily with a fork. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
5. If you’re home, turn the meat over after it has cooked 4 hours. If you can’t do this, the flavor will still be good.
6. Remove the pork from the crock and use 2 forks to shred it.
7. Place the shredded meat in a bowl. Stir in the orange juice. Add some of the liquid remaining in the crock to moisten the meat as much as you want.
8. If you have time, preheat your oven to 400°F. Spread the meat on 1 or 2 large, greased baking sheets. Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meat begins to crisp on the bottom and around the edges. Then broil it for 5 minutes or so, drizzling it with additional sauce so it continues to get crispy but doesn’t burn.
9. Serve the pork as filling for tamales, enchiladas, and/or burritos, with desired toppings. Or, serve it on buns or over white rice.
To thicken the sauce: In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water. Stir until a smooth paste forms. Remove 1⁄4 cup of heated sauce from the cooker and mix it into the cornstarch-water paste. When smooth, return the sauce to the crock, stirring until the sauce thickens. —Regina M.
For additional flavor: Lay 1 onion, peeled and halved, next to the roast in Step 2. Reduce the amount of chicken broth to 1 cup in Step 3. Then squeeze 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice over the roast. Squeeze fresh juice from 1 medium-large orange over the roast too. Lay the spent orange halves beside the roast. Lay in the bay leaves. Continue with Step 4 and the following steps. Remove the orange halves before shredding the meat. Taste before adding more orange juice in Step 7. —Regina M.
Make It Gluten-free
Check the label to ensure you are using gluten-free chicken broth.
Make lettuce cups by spooning 1⁄2 cup of the shredded pork into the middle of single large romaine lettuce leaves. Fold each leaf up from the bottom and in from the sides. Roll the top down to create a refreshing lettuce-wrapped package.
Make It for Picky Eaters
Go light on the sauce when you serve the carnitas.
Excerpted from Stock the Crock by Phyllis Good. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.