The first time I remember seeing the word “carnitas” was in Chipotle. I was in the process of taking in all the shiny steel surfaces to dig out my trusty phone dictionary so I ordered the familiar chicken burrito bowl. But later, I checked out carnitas and found out it is a fancy word for really REALLY good pork that is used in Mexican cuisine. Traditionally, a big cut of marbled pork is slowly braised, then fried to achieve a crispy texture. Then it becomes a great base for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, etc.
When it comes to doing an intense Whole 30 dietary program, every new idea or recipe takes on a new level of value. It’s easy to get stuck in a regimented (aka..boring) rut and eat only 4 or 5 main dishes for 30 days. After that, then all hell breaks loose and you’ll be devouring every non-approved food item and you’re right back at the dead end of gluten filled grains and sugar. Those 30 days will be for nothing if you haven’t learned anything about foods that might be causing a LOT of inflammation in your body. And I guess that is why this round of Whole 30 is more difficult than my first. I’m comfortable eating soup, chicken thighs, and sweet potatoes for 4 weeks. In fact, those 3 things carried me through my whole year of 2013. But I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes and I love this one! I adapted it from Mark’s Daily Apple.
Perfect Pork Carnitas
- 3-4 pounds boneless pork butt cut into five pieces.
- 2 teaspoons Adobo seasoning (combo of cumin oregano, pepper, garlic)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons salt and pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves minced/crushed
- 1 onion chopped or thinly sliced
- Water for braising
Lay pork in bottom of 5qut slow-cooker. Sprinkle Adobo, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper, bay leaf, garlic and sliced onion.
Add 1 cup of water.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
When finished, pre-heat oven to 425* Remove pork pieces to cutting board. Using a fork or hands, pull apart pork and use knife to cut into smaller pieces.
Lay pork on a baking sheet. Roast until caramelized and beginning to crisp, approximately 20-30 minutes.
Serve immediately or keep in fridge up to 1 week.
This is just one of the latest new recipes I tried this week and I used it in a salad, by itself with salsa, and in a breakfast casserole. It is not so heavily seasoned that it’s limited to just “Mexican” food. My biggest warning is to carefully watch the last step of the roasting process. Changes in ovens, the amount of fat+meat, and the distance from the oven coils all contribute to possible burning. Don’t let the savory smells tempt you to pull it out too soon, either. If the pan is really steaming, it’s not ready. As the liquid steams away, the crisping begins. When you see the outer edges and some taller pieces begin to brown, you know you’re getting close.
My biggest wish: I wish I loved avocado. I’ve heard that is a perfect combination with carnitas. I haven’t found a way to get over the texture.