Slow Cooker Carnitas

posted in: Big Bites, Recipes | 0

When I was in college, I used to celebrate “Mexican Monday” once a week with the girls. “Molly’s Mexican Monday,” we called it: in honor of our good friend’s heritage and our collective affinity for margaritas. Typically, we sat around and ate chips and salsa and drank copiously, but it was always tons of fun to get together with a theme. #SoCollege.

From time to time, I like to keep the tradition alive. Mexican Monday is a little more sophisticated nowadays, but only because we actually prepare a bangin’ Mexican-inspired meal and avoid getting to sloppy with the dranks. Tacos are a fan favorite and recently, we upped the ante with slow-braised pulled pork –aka- carnitas.

This carnitas recipe is awesome because the amount of work that goes into it is exponentially less than the flavors you get out. Prepare this dish before you go to bed and let it simmer over night, or stick it in the pot before you go to work. When you get home, dinner is served!

Serve this pulled pork on a bed of baby spinach or in a soft taco shell. Accompany it with sliced avocado in lime-juice (reserved from the pork recipe), guacamole, tomatoes, sliced cabbage, cilantro, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and/or spicy mayo.

What You'll Need

(serves 4)

  • 5 lbs bone-in pork shoulder.
  • 1 full-bodied bottle of beer (I used a black and tan Yuengling Lager)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon of salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp each of cumin, paprika, chili powder, cayenne (red) pepper
  • ¼ cup of Trader Joe’s Sriracha BBQ sauce
  • 1 jalapeńo pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lime


Step 1:

Remove any excess fat or skin from the top of the pork shoulder. Rub all sides generously with salt and pepper.


Step 2:

In a small bowl, combine olive oil and dry spices until it becomes a thick paste. Use a large brush to generously coat the top and sides of the pork shoulder. Place into a slow cooker and drizzle Trader Joe's Sriracha Barbecue sauce on top- about 1/4 of a cup. If you don't have access to Trader Joe's, any spicy or sweet barbecue sauce will do.


Step 3:

Mince the garlic cloves and finely chop your jalapeńo pepper. Sprinkle them on top of the meat. Depending on how spicy you want it to be, you can use the jalapeńo seeds or discard them. Personally, I discarded them and felt the meat had a nice balance of spice and flavor.


Step 4:

Crack open a nice full-bodied brew of your choice- I used a Black & Tan Yeungling- and pour it into the slow cooker. Juice 1 lime, reserve the juice to preserve your guacamole or avocado slices, and toss the flesh into the pot. Cover and braise for 6-8 hours on medium to high heat.


Step 5:

After 6-8 hours, carefully remove the meat from the slow cooker and place it in a shallow pan or cutting board that will catch all the juices. It’s going to be extremely juicy, and you'll want to avoid a big mess! Remove the bone and discard. Use tongs and a large fork to pull the meat apart. Place the pulled pork back into the slow cooker and cover again until ready to eat. The longer you leave it, the more the sauce reduces and the richer it tastes.


Step 6

Serve the pulled pork in a soft shell taco or for a healthier version: atop a bed of baby spinach. We made a simple pico de gallo (diced tomatoes, yellow onion, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper) and sliced up some fresh avocados. Queso fresco and spicy mayo completed the meal! 

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