Happy Cinco de Mayo!
I was supposed to share this delicious slow cooker carnitas recipe with you last week but I've been behind on... well, everything. Not just writing posts, but also laundry, dishes, cooking lunch. The list goes on and it's a mess.
And I realize that posting this so late, you probably won't be able to make it in time for your Cinco de Mayo festivities. But I have to share it because it's so good, you
can should be making it whether it's Cinco de Mayo or not!
Have you tried carnitas? If you haven't, you must! They are a-ma-zing! The photos don't do it justice at all. They're juicy and moist, yet crispy on the edges, with lots of flavor from the spices, garlic, and orange!
What is carnitas?
Carnitas is the Mexican version of pulled pork. Pork shoulder is seasoned and cooked slowly in a pot of lard until it's rich, so tender it's falling apart, with crispy edges.
Don't worry, I'm not going to make you slave in the kitchen cooking pork in lard on the stovetop for hours! Who has a potful of lard anyway?
We're doing this in the slow cooker! You can set it, forget it, and come back to the kitchen filled with the amazing aroma of carnitas!
How to make carnitas
Season a hunk of pork shoulder with oregano, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Stick it in the crock pot with garlic cloves, sliced onions, bay leaves, a whole orange, and set it on low for 10 hours.
And when you come back, something magical's happened and that pork is nicely seasoned, moist, and shreds beautifully!
You could just shred the pork and call it a day. Maybe put it in tacos or on a salad. It'll be delicious!
But authentic carnitas is crispy, so I highly suggest going the extra step and crisping up the pork in a skillet. I like to use my griddle so I can crisp up a big batch of pork at a time.
What to serve with carnitas?
Carnitas are so versatile, you can serve it with almost anything!
- Tacos - classic
- Salads - healthy option
- Small chunks in fried rice - my kind of comfort food
- Rice/quinoa bowls - a happy medium between a salad and fried rice
- Creamy pasta - carnitas mac and cheese? YUM!
- Sandwich - arepas are a great gluten-free option
I had my slow cooker carnitas on a rice bowl with baby greens, avocado, simple pico de gallo (sans jalapeños because I forgot to get some), and corn. I also added extra cilantro and a squeeze of a lime wedge and it was the bomb!
What are you waiting for? Doesn't matter if it's Cinco de Mayo or not, it's too good not to make it!
Need a dessert to go with the best slow cooker carnitas? Try some mango lime sorbet!
Make sure you're following me on Pinterest, and leave me a comment on what you're having (or had) for Cinco de Mayo!
The Best Slow Cooker Carnitas
- 4 lbs (2kg) pork shoulder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 orange, cut in half
- Rinse the pork and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Combine the oregano, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Rub it into the pork.
- Put the pork into the slow cooker along with bay leaves, garlic cloves, and sliced onion. Squeeze the orange juice into the slow cooker, and add the orange halves as well. Set on low for 10 hours.
- After 10 hours, take the pork out and let it cool slightly before shredding. Let the juice in the crock pot cool completely to separate the juice from the fat. (I like to discard the fat and add the juice to the bowl of shredded carnitas to keep it moist)
- Heat a skillet or griddle on medium-high heat and crisp up the shredded carnitas.