Living on the edge with slow-cooker carnitas
When it comes to activities that could cause bodily harm or physical destruction, I ALWAYS err on the side of caution. Meaning, I don’t partake. That’s so dangerous! is a big phrase for me. Leaving a slow-cooker unattended for a moderate stretch of time is on my list of no-nos. But alas, left with no dinner options and package of pork that would be unusable in a few days, I took a walk on the wild side.
I know what you’re thinking: That’s what a slow cooker is for. In fact, upon some investigation, I discovered evidence that debunked my fears in Crock-Pot’s own tagline: Cooks all day—while the cooks away!
Still, I couldn’t erase the visions of smoke pouring from my windows as I arrived home from work. So I’m a little paranoid.
After deciding to take the plunge, I made sure to add plenty of liquid and keep the cooking temperature on low. To my delight, I didn’t burn my apartment down. To Dave’s delight, he got fed that night.
These carnitas were perfect—tender and juicy with a wonderful depth of flavor. The pork I bought from a local mexican grocery store was simply labeled “pork cubes,” so I can’t be sure of the cut, but the meat fell apart in the sauce the minute I touched it with a fork. It was fairly lean but with really nice, thin marbling throughout. The majority of the other recipes I’ve seen call for pork shoulder or pork butt, so if your grocer doesn’t have anything labeled “pork cubes” (what an oversight!) get one of those cuts. While you could dress these up with cheese, sour cream, and a number of other complements, I recommend trying them first by themselves in a fresh, warm corn or flour tortilla. Perfection.
- 1 1/2 lbs. pork, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 can chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, plus a teaspoon of sauce from can
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- dash of allspice
- salt to taste
- lime juice from 1 lime
- Blend chipotle and garlic to a paste.
- Add all ingredients except for lime juice and salt to slow cooker and cook, covered, on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- Remove lid and shred pork with a fork—it should be tender and fall apart easily at this point. Keep lid off for the last hour or so of cooking to allow any excess liquid to cook off. Salt to taste. Squeeze in lime juice, or use lime to garnish after serving.
- Serve with tortillas.
I garnished with hot sauce and a generous squeeze of lime juice. These would also be fantastic in enchiladas, tamales or nachos. Easy, cheap, delicious.