We often joke that Emily, my oldest, could easily be a vegetarian if it wasn’t for pork. That girl loves her bacon, her baby back ribs, her pork tenderloin and chops. Most recently, she’s discovered that her new favorite thing on the menu at a Mexican restaurant is pork carnitas. I can’t say I blame her. They are pretty good.
If you usually stick to the beef or chicken section of the Mexi menu, turn the page and try out the carnitas next time. Carnitas is slow-roasted, nicely spiced, usually shredded pork shoulder. It’s delicious and used in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, or even as a nacho topping. And, in many Mexican restaurants, you can order up a plate of just the carnitas on their own!
When I ran across this recipe for carnitas in the slow cooker, I immediately thought of Emily and knew I had to try it…for her. Well, for me, too. And you guys. I can’t forget you.
I started by browning up my pork shoulder roast on the stove. Once it was browned on all sides, I removed it from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
Once it wasn’t going to burn my fingers off, I took out one of my smaller, sharp knives and cut little pockets into the roast, all over it. Into each little pocket went a sliver of fresh garlic.
Once the roast was completely filled with garlic bits, I got my slow cooker ready to go. I poured in some fat-free chicken broth, added a couple of bay leaves, and also added two Chipotle peppers. If you’ve never worked with Chipotle peppers before, don’t be afraid. Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. You buy them canned, and they come in a smoky, tomato-based adobo sauce. They add a little bit of heat, but not much, just mostly that smoky flavor.
Most recipes I’ve made that call for Chipotle peppers only call for one or two, which leaves a couple left in the can. They freeze wonderfully. Take the last few peppers, stick them in a freezer bag, and freeze them. That way, you’ll have one less thing you have to shop for next time. Oh, and when you do go shopping, you should be able to find these pretty easily in the Mexican food section of your grocery store.
After the peppers were in the broth, I generously sprinkled my garlic-studded roast with cumin, garlic powder, and Adobo seasoning. Adobo seasoning is different from that adobo sauce the chipotle peppers were hanging out in.
Adobo seasoning can be found in your spice aisle, or with the Mexican food, at your grocery store. It’s kind of like a Mexican seasoning salt as it’s a mixture of salt, paprika, garlic powder, oregano and other spices.
Once I’d sprinkled my roast all over with the seasonings, it was ready to go into the slow cooker.
I set my Crock Pot to cook on low for eight hours and I walked away.
(Isn’t that the best?)
Eight hours later, I removed the roast from the juices in the slow cooker and it easily shredded up with two forks. It was perfectly roasted and moist, and looked just like the stuff at the Mexican restaurant that Emily loves so much.
I put the shredded meat back into the slow cooker and let it cook for another fifteen minutes more, while I got the rest of the dinner stuff together. The family wanted tacos, so we went that route, and they were delicious! A huge hit! Emily ate three of them! (If you have ever watched my child eat, you know that putting down three tacos is a HUGE deal.) Our tacos were great, but you could use this pork in so many ways! Think of your favorite Mexican dish and go for it. Emily was pretty happy when we did!
SLOW COOKER MEXICAN PORK CARNITAS
Adapted from skinnytaste.com
- 2.5 lb. pork shoulder roast, lean, fat removed
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, slivered
- dry Adobo seasoning
- garlic powder
- ¾ cup fat-free chicken broth
- 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and brown it on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit before handling.
- Using a sharp knife, cut some slits/pockets in the pork. Slide the slivers of garlic into the pockets.
- Season the pork generously with the cumin, Adobo seasoning, and garlic powder.
- Pour the chicken broth in the Crock Pot. Add the bay leaves and the chipotle peppers. Place the pork roast in the crock pot, cover, and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
- After 8 hours, remove the roast from the slow cooker. Using two forks, shred the meat. Return the pork to the crock pot and allow to cook for 15-30 minutes more, so the shredded pork picks up more flavor from the sauce.
- Serve in burritos, tacos, taco salads, nachos, sandwiches...it's up to you!