As most of us have come to learn, Mexican food tends to be just about the simplest cuisine to suit the 4HB lifestyle, with only slight modifications. Has the riceless Chipotle Burrito Bowl become your fall-back meal plan, fast-food staple, yet? I’m originally from South Carolina, and was never a huge fan of Mexican food until I moved out to San Diego almost 7 years ago. It wasn’t long until I actually craved Mexican food. I accredit this to one of two things: subsequent deviation from a once-extremely picky palate (a.k.a – growing the heck up); or new exposure to Mexican food in a location actually close to the border (with no mass body of water in between!). It’s all about authenticity sometimes; and good (almost-local) ingredients!
Once again, I’ve shot off on quite the tangent. But when I think carnitas, I think of a good, home-cooked, Mexican dish. This is one of my husband’s and my favorite slow-cooker meals. Work all day; fiesta in the eve! Tender and juicy, with a touch of outer crispness; this hunk of meat is flavorful and filling!
Let’s get right down to this porky delight:
2 lbs boneless pork butt (or pork shoulder)
1/2 medium yellow onion
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
2 tsp Butt Rub Seasoning (optional)
Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
- Cut up the pork butt into approximately 1 1/2 inch cubes. If you’re purchasing your pork from a butcher, they will usually cut it for you, if you ask.
- Trim off some of the excess fat, if you desire (but not all of it !) If you’re like me, and a little frightened by the big splotches white, just trim off some of the fat. Don’t get too obsessive over it, however, as you actually do want some of that fat to cook with the meat in order to allow for extra tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. And trust me – the fat will melt right off of the meat, anyway, when it is finished.
- Toss the cubed meat into the slow-cooker.
- Season the meat with salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, cumin (and any other seasonings, should you choose to add-on), and toss to coat. If using liquid smoke, pour the small amount into the pot.
- Sprinkle the minced garlic & red pepper flakes over top the meat. Cut the yellow onion half into 2 or 3 chunks, and rest the pieces, intact, on top of the meat.
If you are making this ahead of time, put the lid over the crock pot and let sit in the fridge, absorbing that extra flavor. Otherwise, go ahead and plug it in and get it started! Trust me, your flavor will be delicious, as is.
- Cook on low setting for 6-7 hours.
- When finished, and ready to serve; remove from the pot with a meshed or slotted spoon, placing it into a pile on a cutting board or plate.
- Discard the onion pieces.
- Using a fork, press onto the pork to shred into pieces. This will not be a labor intensive process, in the least, as it will literally just fall apart under the fork.
- Dish out onto plates, and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve as-is, or top with a seasoned & sautéed assortment of bell peppers, onion, and carrots; as imaged below. This mix of veggies, I’ve found, complements the meat really well! And, of course, it offers more resemblance to the innards of a yummy burrito.