When Rachel told me that she was planning fun things here for Cinco de Mayo, I knew immediately what recipe I was going to share with you. This is quite possibly my household’s favorite thing I make for supper. It is also the thing I make when I need to show up at someone’s house and say “Congratulations!” or “I’m so, so sorry.” It’s pork Carnitas. It takes 12-18 hours in your slow cooker and has about 15 minutes of hands on time. It is also absolutely delicious, and you can make it into dozens of things.
We have this at least twice a month at my house. The great news is it scales up really well (and you don’t need to remember your fractions to do it!) , and it freezes too. So, make a huge batch once, and enjoy it multiple times with no cooking! The recipe I’m sharing with you, typically will make 3-4 meals for my husband and me.
True confession here: this recipe almost didn’t happen. The meat shortage that is being seen across the country has finally made it to us here on the shores of Lake Michigan, and it’s really difficult to find meat outside of ground beef and chicken thighs. I was lucky to find some half pork loins from a small local grocery store (my preferred place to shop) from their in-house butcher. We prefer pork tenderloins for this recipe at my house, however I’ve made it with pork butt (also known as shoulder), and various cuts of chicken. All of them were delicious! While I’m giving you my favorite version of the recipe here, use it as a guide for what you can access where you are. In the spirit of Pandemic Pantry, it is very flexible and pretty hard to screw up!
If you have crockpot liners, I would recommend using them for this recipe. It is one of the few disposable things in my kitchen I can’t live without. Put that liner in your slow cooker, then put the meat in. Mix all the spices with the lime juice and pour it over the top. Put the lid on, set it to low, and walk away. You will want to cook this for a minimum of 12 hours, up to 18, your meat will show you when it’s done. An easy way to check for the pork is that it will easily fall apart when pulled with tongs or a fork. You can also use an instant read thermometer to be super safe (I recommend this!). For pork safe temperature is 145 degrees, and 165 degrees for chicken, according to the USDA. When it’s cooked through pull it out and cut it into smaller chunks and separate into shreds with a fork or a pair of tongs.
Now what do you do with it? Let me give you some suggestions.
- Make burrito bowls: This is our favorite option (pictured below) – rice, pork carnitas, veggies, cheese, tortilla chips, hot sauce. Heaven!
- Tacos: ‘nuf said.
- Nachos: mmmmmmm…..
- Any Mexican recipe that you put meat in.
- Eat it with your hands directly off the cutting board: Guilty as charged.
If you are making this to put in a care package, let me give you a few suggestions of what to pack with it. My typical box includes:
- Pork Carnitas
- Cooked Brown Rice
- A Bag of Tortilla Chips
- Flour Tortillas
- Corn Tortillas
- Jar of Salsa
- Grate Cheese (buy the block and grate it yourself – it really does taste better)
- Chopped Green Pepper
- Quartered Cherry Tomatoes
- Bag of Shredded Lettuce
- Dessert (I usually go with Coca Brownies or Lemon Bars)
This will give your loved one enough variety, and food, for a few meals, with ingredients that will stay happy in their fridge (or most in their freezer) until they want to eat it.
- 4 – 5 Pounds of Pork Tenderloin (also known as Pork Loin)
- 1/2 Cup Lime Juice (fresh or bottled)
- 2 Tbl Oregano
- 2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
Put a slow cooker liner in slow cooker. Put pork in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together lime juice, salt, garlic, smoked paprika and oregano. Pour mixture over pork. Cover and cook on low setting for 12-18 hours. When cooked, pull out pieces of pork with tongs and cut into bite size pieces. Shred until desired size is reached.
Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 4 days, or freeze up to 2 months.
Take care of yourselves. Happy cooking!