Happy Cinco de Mayo!
First, I’d like to say how super excited I am about little Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Tea and scones all around! I’m such an Anglophile, and more than one person texted me at 6:15 Sunday morning to tell me the news. I’d also like to point out to Apple Crisp and Tomato, among others, that I’m a rock star at picking names. You see, back in college, I told them all that I loved the names Betsy (aka Elizabeth) and George and everyone…EVERYONE…told me they were horrible names, and they, as my friends, had forbidden me to name any child that I should bring into this world either of those names. Fast forward 13 years later and little Prince George was born, and I got mine. Two more years later, and I feel validated that my name choices were cool and legit. Clearly Kate and I would be friends.
Now that I got that off of my chest, let’s talk about these carnitas, because it is after all Cinco de Mayo and carnitas are equally as exciting as little Charlotte. Despite being my top menu choice at Chipotle…I’d never made them! For shame.
Shame no more and I have my new friend Verduras to thank. We met a few weeks ago and she was more than happy to share some of her family’s Mexican favorites. And you know that I go after people’s family’s recipes like a piranha goes after a skinny dipping missionary. Eyes wide and mouth open.
In making this recipe, I came to the realization that I’ve gotten to the point in my cooking “career” where I no longer follow recipes to the letter. I think of them more like guidelines, and after Verduras painstakingly wrote down her family’s recipe, I decided to make it sort of my own anyway by throwing all the goods in the slow cooker to let it rock. I had better things to do this past weekend with its weather perfection than sit and watch the stove. I also opted to use bacon fat rather than lard because you know…bacon fat. If I’m going to use fat in a recipe, it might as well be bacon fat. I don’t think either change was detrimental to the end result since these carnitas blew Chipotle’s out of the water. Sorry, Chipotle. I still love you.
Anyway, if you choose to do this on the stove, cook it for three hours until the pork shreds easily with a fork. Serve with classic taco accompaniments…salsa, cheese…and all those juicy onion bits that you’ll find soft and flavorful at the bottom of the slow cooker.
- 2 pounds boneless pork butt (up this to 3# if you get one with the shoulder bone)
- 1/4 cup taco seasoning of choice (I used mine)
- 1/4 pound bacon (I used black forest), coarsely chopped
- 2 medium oranges, halved
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cinnamon sticks, preferably canela
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 TB salt
- 2 TB Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bottle Mexican Coke
- 1 cup non-hoppy beer (Modelo or Pacifico work well)
- Coat the pork in taco seasoning.
- In a cast iron skillet, add the bacon and cook until all the fat has rendered. Remove the bacon to drip on a paper towel, and reserve for a later use.
- To the bacon fat, sear the pork shoulder, about 4 minutes on each side until crispy and brown.
- To the bowl of your slow cooker, add the onions, garlic, orange juice, orange peels and spices. Place the pork shoulder on top, along with the bacon fat, and cover with the whole bottle of Coke and the beer.
- Cook in the slow cooker on high for about 3-4 hours (depending on your slow cooker) until the pork is fork tender. Fish it out with a slotted spoon and let rest. When it is cool enough, you can chop it or pull it.
- If you’re making this ahead of time, put the juice in the refrigerator and all the fat will rise to the top. If not, use immediately. You can use this juice to warm up the pork, or serve it along side the carnitas.
- Serve with taco accompaniments of choice.
- If you want you can do this on the stove in a simmer for 3 hours.
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