Saturday, March 15, 2014


I am excited to share with you today one of my favorite recipes--carnitas.  I especially love this recipe because it is a quick and easy crock pot recipe, perfect for those busy days we all have.  Get everything ready and in the crock pot, set it in the morning and come home to some great food (and a house that smells amazing)!

I actually have James to thank for this recipe being on the regular rotation.  I generally do all the cooking, and thus all the meal planning and often all the food shopping for us.  He does the dishes, which is great because dirty dishes gross me out... In any case, I like to make sure that I am making meals we both will like.  So every once in a while, I push a cookbook James' way and ask him to pick something out for dinner for the week.  One day long, long ago, he picked these carnitas from a slow cooker cookbook, which I may have never otherwise made.  They were and are amazing.  

I have lightened the recipe up slightly.  Mainly I do this by using pork tenderloin instead of the fattier pork shoulder called for by the original recipe.  I also use less olive oil for browning of the meat, which is a VERY important step.  I made this once at my father's house, and he didn't have any oil or butter (he doesn't cook much), so I couldn't brown the meat.  I could definitely tell the difference, so do not skip this step.

As for the beer in the recipe, I have used a number of different things.  James and I have gotten really in to craft beer recently, so I never have a "Mexican, lager-style beer" in the house.  I have used some home brew beers (James was brewing his own beer at one point, hopefully again soon), Sam Adams, and Yuengling, all with good results.  Basically, try to use something with some flavor!    

The recipe makes enough for a crowd (or a good half-week of lunches and dinner for two).  I have made this for friends and family with rave reviews all around.  We usually eat these with tortillas, but have also had them as part of burrito bowls.  They would actually probably also make some great quesadillas.  Hmmm...might have to try that next time!

Makes 8-10 servings

Salt and pepper
3-4 lbs pork tenderloin
1/4 cup (or less) olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
12 oz beer (Mexican lager-style or other, see not above about beer)
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 lime (plus additional limes for serving), zested and juiced
1 Tbs dried Mexican oregano (can substitute regular oregano)

For serving:
Flour or corn tortillas
Chopped onion
Chopped cilantro
Queso fresco cheese

Season the pork generously on all sides with salt and pepper.  Warm the olive oil in a large pan on medium-high heat.  Brown the pork on all sides, about 10 minutes total.  Remove the pork from the pan and set in the crockpot.

Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook for several minutes until translucent.  Crush the garlic into the pan and cook for two more minutes or until garlic is fragrant.  Turn off the heat and add the beer, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.  Add the zest and juice of the orange and lime and the Mexican oregano.  Stir to combine.  

Pour the mixture over the pork in the slow cooker.  Cook for 10 hours on the low-heat setting or for 5 hours on the high-heat setting.  

When the pork is finished cooking, use two forks to shred the meat in the bowl of the slow cooker.  Mix well with the juices and serve with your choice of toppings.  

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