For as much as I love to cook, for the longest time I struggled with finding the right recipe to make in a slow cooker. Most recipes just didn’t wow me and there was one disaster that I will never live down with certain members of our family (let’s just say I don’t recommend making oatmeal in a slow cooker). But, then I found this recipe for Pork Carnitas and my luck changed!
My current theory about making really tasty meals in a slow cooker is that you have to do some pre-work – just putting a bunch of ingredients into the cooker and turning it on hasn’t worked well for me (I know there are many out there who would respectfully disagree with me).
Traditionally, Pork Carnitas have been made with fatty pieces of pork and lard, making for a rather unhealthy meal. That is not the case here – the main ingredients are citrus fruits and beer with a bit olive oil (necessary fat). And, I recently made it even healthier – the original recipe called for a boneless pork shoulder, but the last time I went to my favorite butcher, they were out of the shoulder, so they recommended a boneless pork roast. It was just as tasty and less fatty, so going forward I will now be asking for a boneless pork roast.
I have made this for friends on a few different occasions and everyone has left the dinner table very satisfied. I think Ed could eat it once a week!
|Pork Carnitas|| || |
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 boneless pork roast (preferred) or pork shoulder roast, 3-5 pounds
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) Mexican, lager-style beer (such as Corona)
- Grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas, guacamole (or sliced avocado), fresh salsa, lime wedges and chopped fresh cilantro
- In a small bowl, combine salt and pepper. Season pork roast generously with the mixture. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pork and cook, turning frequently until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Pour off all but a thin layer of fat in the pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté just until they begin to soften, 1-2 minutes. Add beer and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Turn off heat and add the orange, lime and lemon zests and juices and oregano. Stir to mix.
- Slow Cooker: Transfer the pork to a slow cooker and pour the beer/citrus mixture over the pork. Cover and cook until pork is very tender, about 5 hours on the high-heat setting or 10 hours on the low-heat setting.
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the pork to a large Dutch oven and pour the beer/citrus mixture over the pork. Cover and cook until pork is very tender, about 2-1/2 hours.
- Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Transfer the cooking juices to a large measuring cup or bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes or so until you see the thin layer of fat forming on top. Use a large shallow spoon or a ladle to skim as much fat as possible from the surface of the cooking juices. Meanwhile, using a large, sharp knife and fork, coarsely cut and shred the pork into small bite-sized pieces. Arrange meat on a warmed platter or individual plates, moisten lightly with the beer/citrus juice and serve at once (or follow other two options below).
- Make Ahead: Place shredded pork in a covered, oven-proof dish and add cooking juices (add more than you would if you were going to serve immediately). Let cool and refrigerate until you’re ready to re-heat (can be done a day in advance). Place covered dish in a 350°F for about 30 minutes until heated through.
- Freeze: Place shredded pork in covered plastic containers and add cooking juices (add more than you would if you were going to serve immediately). Let cool and freeze. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and let thaw in refrigerator overnight. Place pork in a covered dish in a 350°F for about 30 minutes until heated through or in a covered pot on top of the stove on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.
- Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas, guacamole (or sliced avocado), fresh salsa, lime wedges and chopped fresh cilantro.
Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Slow Cooking (2008)