The Crock Pot is great for summer cooking. I love being able to prepare dinner early on a hot day and let it cook away while the kitchen stays nice and cool.
This is my favorite variation of crispy pork Carnitas. In this version, the flavors of the pork really shine because it’s not heavily seasoned or spicy. You could call it Gringo Carnitas, and I wouldn’t be offended at all. It’s perfect if your household contains members with WFP (Weird Flavor Phobia) or UTBS (Underdeveloped Taste Buds Syndrome).
Some Carnitas recipes I’ve tried call for broiling the cooked pork in the oven. For me, this hasn’t always worked well because sometimes the meat broils unevenly and dries out. This pan-frying method is much more exact, as you can brown the meat and remove it from the pan as soon as it’s perfect. Adding some of the cooking juices keeps it moist.
The preparation couldn’t be easier. Trim the large pieces of fat from the pork shoulder. Leave the rest of the fat on to keep the meat juicy while it cooks.
Season the roast with salt, pepper, oregano and cumin. Pour the orange juice in the bottom of the Crock Pot, and fit the roast in on top. Chop up an onion, a jalapeno (remove seeds) and 4 cloves garlic.
The jalapeno cooks down and isn’t spicy (I promise), but you can always use an Anaheim chili instead. Sprinkle the chopped onion, jalapeno and garlic over the top of the roast.
Cover and cook on high for 6 hours, or low for 10 hours. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat and onion mixture to a large bowl, cover with foil, and let it cool for about 20 minutes. (There is just no way to make this photo attractive.)
Use two forks to separate the meat, shredding some of it and leaving some of it in larger pieces.
Now comes the fun part! Heat 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (Using half butter and half oil gives you the best of both ingredients — the wonderful rich flavor of butter, and the ability to withstand a higher cooking temperature that oil provides.)
Add about 1/3 of the shredded pork to the pan. Then spoon some of the juices from the crock pot over the top. Move the pieces around to absorb the butter mixture and then cook without stirring until the bottom of the meat starts to brown. Turn it over and continue cooking for a minute or two.
Transfer to a serving dish. You can use Carnitas in a burrito or taco, or inside enchiladas, or on top of nachos, or unadorned with a side of rice and beans.
We like to serve carnitas with warmed flour tortillas, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fresh steamed corn and limes for squeezing. Spicy salsa or hot sauce on the side (we like Tapatio) will satisfy those with more adventurous palates.
Here’s the recipe:
Gently Seasoned Gringo Crock Pot Carnitas
1 bone-in pork shoulder roast, about 4 pounds
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (or substitute chicken broth or water for extra tame eaters)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano, finely crumbled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno (or substitute large Anaheim chile), deseeded, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (or more or less to suit your tastebuds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
limes for squeezing and garnish
Sprinkle the roast all over with salt, pepper, oregano and cumin. Pour the orange juice in the bottom of the Crock Pot, and fit the roast in on top. Sprinkle the chopped onion, jalapeno and garlic over the top. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours, or low for 10 hours. Or, cook on high for 1 hour and switch to low for 7 hours.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat and onion mixture to a large bowl, cover with foil, and let it cool for about 20 minutes. (Keep the cooking juices warm in the Crock Pot.) Use two forks to separate the meat, shredding some of it and leaving some of it in larger pieces. Cut long pieces into shorter chunks with a knife, if needed. Remove and discard any fat as you cut and shred the meat.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the mixture is hot, add about 1/3 of the shredded pork to the pan; you want a single layer of meat with some space around the pieces so they can brown. Then spoon some of the juices from the Crock Pot over the top. Move the pieces around to absorb the butter mixture and then cook without stirring until the bottom of the meat turns brown around the edges. Peek underneath and flip the pieces over when they’re nicely browned. Continue cooking for a minute or two. (You don’t want to brown the second side of the meat too much, or it will begin to get tough.) Transfer to a serving dish when each piece is cooked to your liking and drizzle with some of the cooking juices. Repeat with the remaining meat, adding more butter and oil to the skillet if needed.
You can use Carnitas in so many ways: in burritos or tacos, as a filling for enchiladas or tamales, on top of nachos, or unadorned with a side of rice and beans. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy Carnitas? If you make this recipe, tag #happysimpleliving so I can share your photos.