World’s Easiest Carnitas with Grilled Tomatillo Salsa
July 14, 2011
Carnitas could easily claim their spot as my favorite food, especially when smothered in smokey, tangy tomatillo salsa. These “little meats” came late into my life, but over the last few years I have experimented with different methods of preparing them including on the stove top, in the oven, and most recently in the slow cooker. The slow cooker, as the name of this post suggests, is the easiest method by far.
Every busy household should have a slow cooker. During the school year, I rely on our slow cooker to have a hot dinner ready for us after my long day of work and my kids’ long day at school (especially on Mondays!). For the longest time though, I made the mistake of thinking that slow cookers are best used in the cool season months. I used it primarily for soups and stews, the kind of food we crave to warm us up in the winter. Recently though, I discovered that it is just as useful in the summertime to prepare dinner in the morning and have it cook all day. It does not even heat up the house, like the stove or oven would.
With dinner in the slow cooker, my family and I can head out on an adventure and not worry about having to be back to cook dinner for our nearly insatiable children. This worked out perfectly last weekend when we returned from a day on the river, hungry and wiped out from the sun and water, to find perfectly cooked carnitas waiting for us. I chopped up some cabbage for a slaw, warmed some tortillas, and dinner was served.
World’s Easiest Carnitas contains only five ingredients: pork shoulder, onion, salt, pepper, and oregano. You do not even need to add water. Just dice the pork, toss it in the spices, and place it in the slow cooker. The heat renders the fat from the pork and allows the meat to cook in its own lard. The top of the meat chunks that are exposed caramelize and brown beautifully. If you prefer to add other seasonings you certainly can. This method really highlights the taste of the pork, which I happen to like. These carnitas are more of the shredded pork variety than the super crispy nibble variety. If you prefer yours super crispy, brown them off in the oven just before serving. Serve carnitas with tortillas and grilled tomatillo salsa.
World’s Easiest Carnitas
adapted from Bon Appetit
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
Grilled Tomatillo Salsa
Toss the meat with the seasonings and place in the slow cooker. Toss onion quarters on top. Cover pot and cook on low for 6 hours.
Discard onion. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and shred with your fingers. Serve warm with warm tortillas, minced onion, cilantro, and Grilled Tomatillo Salsa.
If you prefer super crispy carnitas, remove meat from the pot with a slotted spoon and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast in a 450 degree oven until crispy, about 10 minutes.
Grilled Tomatillo Salsa
inspired by Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday
makes 1 pint
1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
4 garlic cloves
1/4- 1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Place whole tomatillos and jalapeno over a medium hot grill. Grill, turning occasionally, until skin is blackened and beginning to split. Remove from grill. Place jalapeno in a plastic bag for 5 minutes or so to loosen the skin. Peel and de-seed pepper. Place tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, salt, and 1/4 cup water in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add more water if it seems too thick. Taste and adjust salt to taste.
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