Carnitas: Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder

Source: Micki Seibel, March 2014

Source: Micki Seibel, March 2014

This delicious, tender, slow cooked pork is a great foundation for tacos and burritos. In this recipe, I my slow cooker but retain the two cooking style approach that makes great carnitas: first braise in flavorful liquid, second dry roast to finish. The result is moist and tender, but with the dry roasted finish that prevents carnitas from getting greasy.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 large chunks
  • 1 tbsp of ghee or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 small orange, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and cayenne and rub this spice blend all over the pork.
  2. In a large saute pan (or in your slow cooker, if it has a brown/saute setting), melt the ghee (or heat the oil). Brown the pork for 3-5 minutes per side.
  3. Remove the pork and add the onions, garlic, and jalapeño and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes more.
  4. Place the onion, garlic, jalapeño mixture in your slow cooker, add the chicken broth, orange, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Then add the pork.
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  6. Drain the liquid. Using two forks, pull the pork apart, add salt and fresh ground pepper, and cook for an additional 1.5 hours on low.
  7. To serve, place on fresh made corn tortillas with some lime, cilantro, and homemade guacamole.

How to Not Screw It Up

  1. The most important step to get this carnitas right is to brown it before you slow cook it. Don’t brown the single pork shoulder: cut it into quarters or sixths. You want the maximum amount of surface area to brown. Otherwise, you will end up with carnitas that has a mushy, greasy texture, and that’s just disappointing.