My P.S. (Pork Shopper/hubby) likes carnitas. He is constantly asking me to make the dish. Although I have ordered carnitas in a restaurant, I really had no idea how to make them at home. I’ve tried a few recipes and found them ok, but not WOW. Know what I mean? Like it’s a lot of work to taste sort of “meh”. I felt like I’m still not doing it right.
This time I made the huge Boston butt roast with just onions, salt and pepper and planned to divide it out into several meals. I didn’t want a whole lot of frozen portions of Mexican pork in the freezer again. I’d just used up the last of about 20 bricks of pulled pork and wasn’t looking to replace them anytime soon. So carnitas were one of the dishes I would be making.
I found a recipe of sorts for the carnitas but ended up making changes. The blog had made it in two steps, using the spices while roasting the meat and that was not possible. My pork was roasted, pulled and refrigerated already. And as I mentioned, I didn’t want 20 lbs of Mexican spiced pork.
I diced up an onion, some cilantro, a large jalapeno and put them in a nonstick skillet with the rest of the ingredients, minus the pork and water. I let them sauté for 5 or 6 minutes, until they had pretty much reduced and were a bit dry.
I added 2 cups of water to the skillet to deglaze the pan, then poured the contents into my crockpot. I stirred the meat into the pot and place the lid on top. I set the temp for high for one hour, then for low another 2 hours. It smelled delicious.
Putting it into a container after it cooled, I refrigerated it for dinner the next day. My P.S. said several times “We can finally use the package of corn tortillas”. I just blinked and decided I better do more research. There must be other things in it besides just meat?
Wikipedia described carnitas much like a taco, with shredded pork and chopped cilantro. Ugh. I dislike cilantro and will use it in recipes where there are other ingredients to overshadow it but chopped in a taco? Just. No. The rest I could deal with. Avocados, diced tomatoes, green onions and refried beans I have and will provide for the carnitas. I’m not chopping any more cilantro!
As a side note, even when I used Google to do a image search for carnitas, nobody put cheese on them. Why is this I wonder? Almost every other Mexican dish has shredded cheese but not carnitas? Odd. I didn’t find any answer to the question. Anyone have a clue?
We ate our carnitas with shredded cheese. I heated the corn tortillas in a dry skillet before filling with the meat and vegetable garnishes. They were very tasty. The recipe that had a cinnamon stick and bay leaves in it was unique but really good! I think we liked this recipe the best of all of those I’ve tried.
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 large jalapeno; finely diced (remove seeds for less heat)
1 cinnamon stick, cut into 4-5 pieces
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 cup cilantro; chopped
1/2 cup onion; chopped
6-7 cups shredded pork (already roasted)
2 cups water
shredded cheddar and other garnishes listed below (optional)
Sauté tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno cinnamon stick, thyme, bay leaves, cilantro and onion in a large nonstick skillet with 1/4 cup oil until onions are translucent.
Add to slow cooker with shredded pork and 2 cups water and stir well. Cover with lid and cook on high for 3 hours.
Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.
Serve hot in warmed corn tortillas garnished with: shredded cheddar, refried beans, avocados or guacamole, diced tomatoes, green onions and chopped cilantro