Since moving to Boston from Chicago, I've had an almost a perpetual craving for Mexican food. It could very well be that I am just not "in the know" yet, but I haven't been able to find a good spot for the casual, authentic meal I'd been yearning for. So I decided it was high time I learned how to make a few dishes myself, starting with carnitas. What makes carnitas so intoxicating for me is the complexity of flavor and texture. Its both earthy and rich in flavor and tender and crispy in texture, all at once.
In researching this dish I saw a lot of variations, particularly in the spices. For my first attempt, I erred on the conservative side and stuck with the flavor profile I saw most consistency. We ate this up at lightening speed. Needless to say, I will be making this again. Next time perhaps playing with a few of the other spices I saw incorporated into some recipes, such as anise.
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos Recipe
2lbs boneless pork shoulder (a.k.a pork butt)
1 Serrano pepper, sliced with stem and seeds removed
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & peppers
1 package fresh corn tortillas
Start by unwrapping your pork and giving it a nice rinse and dry. Season the meat with salt and pepper liberally. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the oregano, cumin, cinnamon, marjoram, red pepper and the chopped garlic. Massage the mixture all over the meat and then place in your slow cooker.
Next add the chopped onion, bay leaves and Serrano pepper. Cut the orange in half and juice. Add the orange juice and two halves.
Turn the slow cooker low for 8 hours. I use a Cuisinart 4 Quart Multi-Cooker. While not applicable to this recipe, I love that I can use it for browning and steaming as well. Less dishes to wash = happiness.
Now after you've been tortured by the delicious scent of slow cooked pork wafting in the air for 8 hours, its go time. Take the pork out and place on a cutting board. Allow it to rest for about 15 minutes and then begin to pull off small sections using a fork. Once the meat is fully pulled, heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan on high. Add the meat to the frying pan in a single layer, working in batches if necessary, and brown one side of it. I added a ladle of juice from the slow cooker to the meat while it was browning for extra juiciness.
Pineapple Salsa Recipe
2 cups diced pineapple
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper diced with stem and seeds removed
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 sprinkle of salt
Mix together all of the ingredients (aside from the lime) in a small bowl. Cut the lime in two and squeeze all of the juice into the mixture
Now, to pull it all together!
Warm tortillas on the stove to achieve a light charring. Add a generous serving of crispy carnitas and top with a few scoops of pineapple salsa and garnish with a few leaves of cilantro.
Serve with a crisp and bitter IPA and enjoy!