Carnitas

A few years ago when I dislocated my shoulder, my friend Chris brought us these carnitas. Now, it’s perfectly, perfectly welcome and wonderful when you are bringing someone a meal to drop it off at their home with directions on how to heat it up or freeze and prepare it later or the like. In times of trouble or transition, meals that people don’t have to cook themselves are so high on the list of ways to help and love them. Every single meal that has ever been brought to us has tasted like love.

But Chris not only prepared such good food for us; she did something I had never even thought to do. She stayed. She stayed and fed my kids and fed me and Jason and sent me up to my room to rest while she cleaned up and packed the leftovers away for later. It still brings tears to remember how loved and cared for I felt that afternoon.   

So whenever I make these carnitas I remember, and they still taste like love. As far as the recipe itself goes, I think it’s the citrus juice and the cinnamon that makes it special, but I admit I’ve never had “true” carnitas before. These are the real deal as far as I’m concerned.

Ingredients:

  • 3-5 pounds pork roast, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 white onion, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl or Ziplock bag, mix the spices, then add the pork and toss until coated (these quantities of spices were just enough to coat 3 1/2 pounds of pork; if you have a bigger roast, you will want to double the spice mixture).
  2. Add pork to a slow cooker along with the orange and lime juices, bay leaves, and onion. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.
  3. To crisp the meat (optional, but really tasty): remove the meat from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer to a large baking sheet. Preheat the broiler to high. While the broiler is heating, pull the pork into shreds with two forks. Broil the meat 4 minutes or until the top layer is crisped. Remove from oven and flip meat and then broil for another 2-3 minutes until the new layer is crisped as well. Transfer to a serving dish and add back about 1 cup of the cooking broth for moistness.
  4. Serve as a taco filling or over lettuce with your choice of salsa, pico de gallo, avocado, cheese, and so on.

 

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