Carnitas Tacos

April 19, 2013

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I gotta tell ya’ll, we LOVE any sort of Mexican/Tex-Mex food around here. I’m always more than happy to try out any such recipe. And on Friday night, one of the bands my husband plays in usually arrives here to rehearse. (yup…we have a rehearsal space/recording studio in our basement.) Which is great because it gives me a captive audience to try out new recipes on. And they went absolutely wild for these Carnitas Tacos! What really made these tacos stand out from the run of the mill ground beef tacos was the delicious, spicy, melt-in-your-mouth-tender yet crispy at the edges pork. And the truly wonderful thing about these carnitas is that I was able to make the dish with very little fuss. No really, I kid you not and I’m not even exaggerating the least little bit! You see they are crock pot carnitas. I don’t know about you, but I seem to have some strange ideas about how one gets pulled pork. Perhaps it is a bit of the southerner in me, but I instantly think of a whole pig over a spit and some poor sweltering soul that is left to turn the crank on the spit for the days it takes it to cook. Of course, I fear that I’m going to be that poor soul, so I tend to shy away from any pulled pork recipe. But do you know what I’ve come to realize? You don’t need to man a spit. In fact, you can make some heavenly pulled pork in a crock pot. Go figure! So, this is what I did. I got up the day before folks were going to arrive and put a big old pork shoulder into my crock pot with all the appropriate spices, some lime juice, orange juice and beer and then just turned it on and let it do its thing for 8 hours. When it was all done, I removed the meat, shredded it and popped it into the fridge. The next evening, I got all my taco fixings ready to go, you know the grated cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa, guacamole, diced onions and tomatoes, fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream and tortillas both soft and crispy. Then, shortly before I was going to serve dinner, I put the shredded pork in the broiler to warm it up and get it a little crispy around the edges.

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It was really easy and incredibly tasty! And the other amazing thing is that there were left-overs! On band rehearsal evenings I’m usually feeding six hungry musicians, so more often than not the only thing I bring back into the kitchen are dirty dishes. However, this time I knew I’d be able to get at least one more meal from these carnitas. Hmmm…there are so many possibilities, we could do more tacos, or a tamale pie or pulled pork sandwiches. You’ll have to check back to see what I actually came up with, but I’ll tell you it was just as good as these stop-you-in-your-tracks Carnitas Tacos and that is saying something! But don’t let folks in on the secret, let them imagine you out there toiling endlessly over that spit!

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Carnitas Tacos

recipe from: Pinch of Yum

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 12 ounces beer
  • ½ cup salsa

Taco Fixings: whatever your favourites are, but here are some suggestions

  • tortillas, soft or crispy – your choice
  • lettuce, shredded
  • tomatoes, diced
  • guacamole or sliced avocados
  • onion, diced
  • cilantro, freshly chopped
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • salsa
  • hot sauce

Directions:

Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker, fat side up. Roughly chop the garlic and place in the slow cooker (I actually kind of rubbed it onto the meat to get as much garlic flavor as possible, but you could just toss it in, too).

Sprinkle the meat with salt, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne. Rub seasonings onto the pork.

Add lime juice, orange juice, beer, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove pork from the slow cooker. Shred meat with two forks. Reserve the sauce separately. The meat should fall apart easily. At this point, you can either place the meat in the refrigerator if you are serving at a later date. Or if you are ready to serve it right then and there, preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the shredded meat on the cooking sheet and pour a few spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until you get browned edges on the pork.Serve on tortillas with fresh cilantro, avocado, and all the fixins!

Enjoy!


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