With its flavorful crispy-browned bits and moist tender strands, what’s not to like about pork carnitas? Better yet, what’s not to like about a recipe that makes preparing pork carnitas easy? When life gets hectic or if you’re cooking for a crowd, just place a pork shoulder into a crock pot and let it slowly cook in aromatics and seasonings of fresh orange juice, jalapeño pepper, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can freeze the cooked meat for a later date or go ahead and crisp it up in a frying pan for immediate serving.
Pork Carnitas (Mexican Slow Cooker Pulled Pork)
Recipe from RecipeTin Eats
5 lb/2.5 kg pork shoulder, skinless, bone-in (4lb/2kg without bone) (Cook’s Note 3)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
1¼ tbsp table salt OR 2 tbsp kosher salt or sea salt flakes (Cook’s Note 4)
1 tsp black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 oranges, juice only
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder, rub in salt and pepper.
2. Combine the rub ingredients and then rub it all over the pork.
3. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat cap up). Top with the onion, jalapeño, minced garlic (don’t worry about spreading it) and squeeze over the juice of the orange.
4. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.
5. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone. Remove from the slow cooker and let cool slightly. Shred the pork using two forks.
6. Skim off the fat from the juices remaining in the slow cooker and discard the fat. If you are left with a lot more than 1½ to 2 cups of juice, reduce it (either in the slow cooker on the sauté setting with the lid off or in a saucepan). Set aside.
Pour the juices over the pulled pork and store in Ziploc bags or airtight containers. Freeze in small batches for convenience. To use, defrost completely before following the next steps to brown.
1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat. Place shredded pork into the pan and press down and cook until the bottom side is golden brown and crusty.
2. Pour over the juices and serve immediately (if you are using defrosted carnitas, this is not applicable as the juices are already on the meat).
3. If you are reheating the carnitas, then flip and cook the other side briefly just to warm through. I really recommend only making one side crusty and leaving the other side juicy and moist.
Serves 10 – 12
1. If you are using a piece of pork that is more than 1 lb/0.5 kg larger or smaller than the prescribed size, ensure you adjust the other ingredients accordingly.
2. To make this in the oven, add 1 cup of water to the braising liquid. Place in 325F°/160C° oven for 2 hours, covered, then roast for a further 1 to 1.5 hours uncovered. Add more water if the liquid dries out too much. You should end up with 1½ to 2 cups of liquid when it finishes cooking. If you make this recipe in the oven, you could skip the pan frying step because you will get a nice brown crust on your pork.
3. Use pork with the skin removed but leaving some of the fat cap on. The fat adds juiciness to the carnitas!
4. SALT – a few readers have commented that 2 tbsp of salt made it too salty. I made this again a couple of days again and paid careful attention to the salt. Then I instantly realized – I use sea salt flakes (it’s like kosher salt) and 2 tbsp of sea salt = around 1¼ tbsp of table salt. I have updated the recipe to be very specific about this. Ordinary table salt are the fine granules that you use in salt shakers. Kosher and sea salt flakes are larger, lighter pieces, “flake” like. So when measuring out tablespoons or salt, you need more kosher/sea salt flakes for the same level of saltiness as ordinary table salt.
1. I serve the carnitas with warm soft corn tortillas, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, lime slices, chopped onions, cilantro leaves, and Mexican crema.
2. Pork carnitas can also be used as an ingredient in quesadillas, enchiladas, tamales, tortas, and burritos.
3. If you like your carnitas more crispy, shred it more finely before frying.