Out here in the great state of California, we have a phenominal selection of ethnic foods. When I cook, I usually stay pretty close to what I ate as a kid, maybe a bit more adventuresome – but I don’t have 4 children. Still, I like to try new cuisines. Sometimes I make a flop (like last Monday) and sometimes I find a recipe that really works.
I cut out a recipe for carnitas from the April 2008 issue of Bon Appetit this summer, while I was going through my piles of old cooking magazines. It was in a section called “Family Style” and is made in the slow cooker. L, in particular, orders a carnitas burrito almost every time we go to our favorite local taqueria. Carnitas remind me bit of Hawaiian Kalua Pork, the kind you eat at a luau. Moist, flavorful, succulent. I had to try this recipe. When I made it earlier in the fall, and I was just getting back into the kitchen, I was pretty proud of an easy success that took almost no time. When L & J asked about our menu for last week, they were very pleased that carnitas were being served again.
Carnitas are pretty rich – you wouldn’t want to pile your plate high. Additionally, the meat is simply flavored and tastes delicious the way it is. But, if you like something with a stronger flavor, you can add other spices (cumin, e.g.) or some chipotles in adobo. This recipe makes enough for at least 8. We used up most of the carnitas – some the night they were made, some for quesadillas for lunch, some with a little rice in leftover blackbean soup (surprisingly delicious). I may throw the rest in the freezer for another time.
Slow Cooked Carnitas
adapted from Bon Appetit
3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), large pieces of fat trimmed
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Cut the pork into 1-2 inch chunks, then toss pork in the bowl of a slow cooker with salt, black pepper, and dried oregano to coat. Place onion pieces and garlic on top of the pork. Cover slow cooker and cook pork on low setting until meat is very tender and falling apart, and much of the liquid has evaporated away, about 6 hours.
When pork is fully cooked, remove excess fat if there is a lot (you will want to keep some for moisture). Then, shred the pork with two forks, leaving some large chunks (or, as L calls them: mother-lodes).
Serve the pork with rice, beans, avocado and salsa in a burrito shell; or, with taco fixings in a taco shell; or, with cheese in a quesadilla,