When I saw a recipe for Carnitas on Mark’s Daily Apple earlier this month, I wasn’t really that intrigued. But then I read the part about how you “carameliz[e] the pork in its own fat until the outside is perfectly browned and crisp” and suddenly my interest was piqued. Pork, cooked – nay, caramelized! in its own fat sounds like my kind of party. And so when I found myself in the pork section of my supermarket a few days later, I had plans for what I could do with a big hunk of meat if I were to bring it home.
Into the crock pot it went on a Saturday afternoon, and by the end of the day my house smelled warm, smokey, and delicious. And then the not so pleasant part came – I had bought a bone-in cut of meat, not the boneless variety that the recipe called for. So I spent a good half an hour with a fork in each hand, tearing the pork to bits, memories of the past week’s kettlebell workouts screaming in my forearms. In other words, don’t be like me. Buy boneless.
Mark’s Crispy Carnitas
Adapted from this recipe
Large boneless (3-4 pounds) or bone-in (6-8 pounds) pork shoulder
1 tbsp Salt
2 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Bay Leaf
6 Garlic Cloves, halved
2 Yellow Onions, sliced
- Combine the salt, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. Rub half of the mixture all over the meat; reserve the other half.
- Place the meat in your slow cooker and top with the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, garlic cloves, and onions. Pour in ¾ cup water and cover.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours or until tender and the fat has released from the meat.
- Using two forks and a bit of fortitude, shred the pork into bite sized pieces, and toss the shredded pork with the remaining seasoning. (If making ahead of time or saving for leftovers, stop and refrigerate here.)
- On a cookie sheet, toss the pork with some of the fat from your slow cooker. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-20 minutes or until as crispy as you’d like.
I served this with a big ol’ pile of pico de gallo and some guacamole. Delicious! And it only looked slightly odd when I packed that same awesome combo for lunch the next day.
My husband warmed up some corn tortillas and made them into tacos. And for leftovers one day, he tossed in some barbecue sauce and ate it as pulled pork. The three step process of slow cooking, shredding, and baking may take some time, but you’ll be rewarded with a big pile of savory goodness to last you the week.