Thursday, June 30, 2011

Slow-Cooked Carnitas

Served with avocado slices, fresh cilantro, and cauliflower Mexican "rice"

I love carnitas, a Mexican braised pork dish. I wasn't sure what was in them, so I decided to Google a recipe. Rick Bayless is my go-to source for Mexican recipes, so I was excited to find that he has a recipe for these. However, it calls for, uh, 4 gallons of lard. No wonder they always taste so good! So, these are not authentic carnitas; it is more like a Mexican pulled pork. I remembered that the best carnitas I ever ate had Grand Marnier in them, so I included that too. Of course I made it in the slow cooker, so when I got home, the kitchen smelled wonderful and dinner was waiting for me!

If you are watching calories, use a lean pork loin for this dish. Otherwise, you can use pork butt or shoulder.

Number of servings depends on size of pork roast

  • 1 pork roast, anywhere from 1.5-3 lbs
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp ancho or pasilla chili powder (you can make this yourself by toasting and grinding dried chilies. In a pinch, just use regular supermarket chili powder). 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, finely minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional; leave this out if you don't like spicy food)
  • 1 tsp salt (Kosher or sea salt; use 1/2 tsp if using regular table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar or honey (optional)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lime (2 if your limes are not very juicy)
  • 50ml/about 1/4 cup orange liquor such as Grand Marnier (or substitute 1 Tbs orange extract, or use the zest from the orange)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth + extra if needed
  1. Combine the garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper, olive oil, and optional honey to form a paste. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, sear the pork on the stovetop on high heat until the outside is well-browned.
  3. Rub the pork with the spice paste. If you have a small pork roast, you may not use all of it.
  4. Put the pork in your slow cooker. Pour the Grand Marnier and the juice from the lime and orange over it. Pour 1/2 cup chicken broth around the pork and toss in the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours.
  5. Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Shred the pork with two forks and combine with the meat juices. You may add extra chicken broth to moisten if necessary.


    JQ Bancroft said...

    This sounds AMAZING! I'm always looking for new crockpot recipes since they're cooler for the kitchen in the summer and I don't feel so frenzied when dinner time comes around. This looks like a GREAT option..thanks for posting!

    VeggieGirl said...

    These sound great. How would you make them if you didn't have a slowcooker? Thanks.

    Erica said...

    @JQ Bancroft: I definitely share that sentiment about the crock pot right now! You can view all my crock pot recipes here: . I don't yet have all my recipes in Recipage (the recipe organizing software) but all the crock pot recipes are in there.

    @VeggieGirl: Without a slow cooker I would braise it in the oven, as in this recipe: . You will definitely have to add more chicken broth.

    PrimalGirl said...

    Thanks Erica (I was formerly VeggieGirl, now PrimalGirl!). I tried making this with some modifications and it was DELICIOUS!!!

    shockwave843 said...

    Hi Erica,
    How did you "mex up" your cauliflower rice?

    You're my favorite food blog!

    Erica said...

    @PrimalGirl: Looks great!!

    @shockwave: Here is a link to my Mexican cauli rice: Glad that you enjoy my blog :)

    Virginia said...

    Hi Erica,
    I made this last night and enjoyed a small serving with breakfast this morning. It was very tasty! I used all the spices you recommended plus a little and was surprised that it wasn't spicy at all - I think the next time I'll make it with a little more of the peppers in the spice rub, and then a little more broth in the crock pot. Thanks for the recipe!

    GuateMeHa said...

    What would you say the nutrition info for this is? I am making this right now and following a ketogenic diet as well.

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