Let’s taco ’bout tacos….juicy, tender, flavorful carnitas tacos to be exact.
Equally as fun to say as it is to cook & eat, carnitas is a Mexican dish, which translates to “little meats”. Pork is slowly braised or roasted then shredded into small pieces and riddled with plenty of well-browned crisp edges. YUMMM!!!
If combining cinnamon and orange with pork sounds a little strange to you, don’t be scared! The flavors are subtle and delicious. The orange juice tenderizes the meat to incredible fall apart tenderness, while the natural sugars in the juice caramelizes into crispy heaven with every mouthful.
I should mention that this recipe makes enough to feed a small army, so you’ll have plenty left over to use for another meal that week or freeze for up to 3-4 months. One of my all time favorite ways to serve carnitas is with a simple side of rice, black beans, and salsa verde. Carnitas can be used for so much more than just tasty tacos. In addition to the obvious, but nevertheless delicious classics, like burritos, enchiladas, nachos, & quesadillas, it’s also versatile enough to use in a stew or as a topping on pizza.
The best part about this recipe is that you can customize your tacos with your favorite toppings. I kept things fairly simple with the tart radicchio, sweet caramelized pineapple, creamy avocado & fresh, bright cilantro. It’s a party in your mouth. The meat itself is so flavorful that I try not to overwhelm the dish with too many garnishes; but if toppings are your thing, then pile them on! Either way, it will be delicious!!
- 3 lb. boneless pork shoulder
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- ½ Tbsp oregano
- ½ Tbsp cumin
- ½ Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly cracked pepper
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
Dice the onion and place in the bottom of slow cooker along with cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.
In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, salt, pepper and diced garlic. Coat the pork shoulder in olive oil, and then massage in the spices. Place the seasoned meat in the slow cooker on top of the onion, garlic, and cinnamon.
Pour fresh orange juice and zest into bottom of slow cooker.
Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5 hours, until the meat is tender and falls apart.
Use two forks to shred the meat, and remove the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.
Transfer meat to skillet, and cook over medium heat until browned and crispy on the edges. You want to wait until just before serving to crisp up the meat. If you don’t plan on serving the entire batch at once, store the rest in the cooking juices.
And that’s basically it! It’s just that easy to make tender, juicy, and FLAVORFUL slow cooker carnitas.
This is a NO FAIL recipe! Set it…forget it…and your dinner is ready when you come home!
- 4 tortillas, To keep the dish gluten/grain free, I recommend using Siete Foods Almond Flour Tortillas from Whole Foods
- 1 cup shredded radicchio
- 1 avocado, diced into large chunks
- 1 cup diced pineapple
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- 1 lime, quartered
After crisping up the pork, remove from the pan and set aside. Add diced pineapple to the same skillet, and cook on medium heat until caramelized.
In a separate skillet, warm the tortillas on medium, low heat for about a minute on each side. I like to leave them on a bit longer to get a little charred.
To assemble, add radicchio to warm tortillas. Add desired amount of carnitas, and top with caramelized pineapple, avocado, & cilantro. Serve with cut limes to squeeze on top just before eating.