Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas is my go-to recipe when I want to cook for a crowd or when I want to have a few days of delicious leftovers. It takes about 5 minutes of prep and then 8 hours of low and slow cooking to create deeply flavorful, melt-in-your mouth pork carnitas. (Watch the video to see the buttery texture you can expect.) Serve it straight or on burger buns with coleslaw and BBQ sauce, or on tostadas, or (my favorite!) in Pork Carnitas Tacos!
I’ve intended to post a slow cooker carnitas recipe on this blog for at least a year. After three failed attempts, using recipes that looked great but tasted **meh**, I had nearly given up. But I’m thrilled to report that I’ve found it, the one! As a bonus, it takes no more than 10 minutes to put together in the slow cooker and then it’s just a waiting game. (A tormented wait, I’ll admit, because it smells incredible.)
But before I get to the recipe, I want to tell you a story.
Keith and I had already scheduled a business trip to Portland when we discovered that if we headed up a day early, we could attend a demonstration and book signing for TheKitchn’s new cookbook, The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking. (The book is co-written by Faith Durand and Sara Kate Gillingham.) It sounded like fun, so we booked it. We left in plenty of time to arrive early.
Or so we thought.
It was a dark and stormy night. No really, it was.
We had just 5 miles to go. But then: pouring rain, crawling wheels, stalled cars blocking lanes. It took us 2 hours.
We arrived at The Cakery 1/2 hour late and were greeted by the lovely lady pictured below. Her name is Kelly. She didn’t seem to notice my frazzled expression nor my frizzed, wet hair; she greeted us with a warm smile and assured us that we were not the only stragglers. (Perhaps, but we were the last to arrive.)
If you hadn’t heard of The Cakery, you’d probably drive right by as it’s not very impressive from the outside. But inside, it’s warm, welcoming and full of carefully curated treasures for the cooking and baking obsessed. I wanted to buy everything. They also make stunning cakes and host what they call Pages to Plate, “… a pop-up culinary event series providing guests with access to intimate book signings, cooking demonstrations and discussions.” It’s a perfect venue and hosts many wonderful chefs and cookbook authors, among them: Marisa McClellan, Alice Medrich, and, of course, Faith Durand.
Despite the embarrassment of our tardiness, we had a wonderful time. Our efforts were rewarded by Sriracha-Honey Popcorn Clusters, Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding Cupcakes (both recipes from the new book), and a lively cooking demonstration where Faith made cupcakes and conversation, answering our questions and asking her own. It was just what we’d hoped for.
“There is no question that the kitchen is the most important room of the home,” say Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand of the beloved cooking site and blog, The Kitchn.
From the moment you open this cookbook, you get the sense that Sara and Faith believe this deeply and that the book is a labor of love. The book is part handbook: cooking how-tos, lists of kitchen essentials, solutions to common kitchen problems, cleaning and entertaining advice, and even kitchen case studies. But it’s also a cookbook: 150 recipes from the everyday to the festive. It’s the kind of book that is just right for someone who is learning to cook and setting up their first kitchen, but that also inspires those of us who have been cooking for a while and could use some inspiration!
When I decided to write a post about the book, I started by making a list of recipes that I’d like to try – the list was getting long. But then I got to ‘S’ and there it was: Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas. My friends, if you like carnitas, you must try this. Just must! We made a marathon of it, first having carnitas on it’s own with a salad on the side, then tacos, and finally tostadas and even served it alongside Carne Asada for a huge feast with friends.
And the cooking liquid that comes from this recipe should not be thrown away. We not only used it to reheat the carnitas, but also to season homemade refried beans which tasted better than any I’d ever made and certainly better than anything from a can.
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 1 boneless pork butt (6 to 8 pounds; also called pork shoulder)
- 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 8 cloves garlic smashed
- 4 chipotle peppers canned or dried
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 1 cup orange juice
- Corn tortillas warmed
- Sour cream
- Chopped red onion
- Lime wedges
Trim excess fat from the meat and discard. In a small bowl, combine the salt, cumin, pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne. Rub the mixture all over the meat. Place the pork butt in a large slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix together the garlic, chipotle peppers, tomato juice, and orange juice. Pour the liquid over the meat and cook on LOW for 8 hours. The meat is done when it is fall-apart tender.
When the meat is cool enough to handle, lift it from the juices and place it in a large bowl. Remove the bone, if there is one, then shred the meat. Skim the fat from the juices in the slow cooker, and add 1 cup of the liquid to the meat. Keep the remaining juices as a medium for reheating the pork.
For carnitas tacos, reheat the meat and serve it in warmed corn tortillas with sour cream, cilantro, red onion, and lime wedges.
Reprinted from The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking . Copyright © 2014 by Apartment Therapy LLC. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Leela Cyd. Property of Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.