Pork Carnitas Simple & Easy
These are so simple and easy anyone can make a great Mexican Pork Carnitas.
What Exactly Is Pork Carnitas
Being the Gringo that I am even though I love eating food with pork carnitas, I never really understood the meaning. Today after a quick search, I learned that carnitas mean, little meats, and is a Mexican Cusine made from simmering or braising Pork in oil or lard, till tender.
When Looking For Pork To Use
Last week while I was shopping for Pork Shoulder I found that the prices seemed very high, but I came across this package marked for carnitas, and the price was $1.98 a pound, maybe it is not a good price but compared to the other choices it seemed like a good price to me… Then today I saw that there is a shortage of pork and even the fast-food restaurant Chipotle had to stop offering it till the shortage subsides.
I do not know if there is a Pork shortage where you live, but I can still get it. It would be better if we could grow our own and maybe some of you have fresh or frozen homegrown pork to use. What ever you use, this recipe is very simple and easy just as the name says.
How To Make Pork Carnitas
Do you wash meat? I am not crazy about washing meat, one reason is the germs from the meat gets in and around my sink, setting up a breeding ground for whatever bacteria that is on the meat. I feel better putting meat in a pot of water and adding salt or vinegar to kill some of the germs. One news article suggested to let the cooking kill the germs rather than washing it. So I do both, sometimes I only cook the meat and sometimes I wash the meat in a salt brine, or in vinegar.
Salt and Vinegar really do kill some germs, but those are topics for another post.
Seasoning The Meat
The seasoning that I use is minimal, salt and pepper… You can add what you like but salt and pepper is enough for me.
When using a slow cooker do you brown the meat first, that is what I was taught, and I feel uncomfortable when I think that I might not. So I brown the pork shoulder that I am going to slow cook.
It is very easy, there is no need for oil if you choose not to use it, because pork has some fat that will start to come out as you cook it, but it would probably stick less in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or a non-stick one. You know your cookware, use oil if you think that you will need it.
I have some stainless steel and a few cast iron pieces, but still use non-stick. A few years back I found non-stick Anolon Anodized Cookware while spending 3 months with my daughter, doing most of the cooking. When I got home after months of using them, I thought that I could not live without Anolon so we purchased a set. Compared to other non-stick cookware after years of use they are almost as nice as when we first bought them.
After the meat is browned, I add it to the slow cooker and set the temperature on high, when the pot is hot the temperature is set to low, and the pork is cooked till it falls apart, depending on your elevation and your slow cooker it may take 3, 4 or more hours.
Shred The Tender Pork
When the pork is tender remove it from the juice, set put juices somewhere it can cool, the refrigerator would be best to get it cold. Shredding the tender pork is so simple and easy, just use two forks, and tear it apart, it should not take to long.
When the juices are cold and the fat has separated, remove the fat and set it aside and add the juice back to the shredded pork or wait to add the juices back till you pan fry the pork.
To Pan Fry Or Not
When making pork carnitas many love the pork a little crispy, I never got into the habit of pan frying it. But I do like it a little crispy, so If you like after your pork has been shredded, add the fat that has been removed from the juices to your pan and fry the shredded pork. This will require your attention so stay with it and cook the pork till it is as crunchy as you would like, I go with less. Then when the pork has been pan fried add the juices back in…
How To Use Carnitas
Here are the ways I can think of using carnitas; Pork Carnitas Tacos, Pork Carnitas Enchiladas, Pork Carnitas Burritos, Pork Carnitas Taquitos, can you think of ways to use Pork Carnitas?
This time, I used them to make Tacos, you can see them in the picture above, they were delicious… But my favorite way to eat them are in a deep fried burrito or Chimichanga, I love these. We have a local Mexican fast-food restaurant that makes them and I really like them, but they use more lard than I think my heart can take… So I am back to making my own as it should be. lol
There are as many ways to make Pork Carnitas as there are people, I find keeping it simple & easy works best for me…
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Simple Easy Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Pork Shoulder
- Water for cooking, just a little.
- If you like to wash meat, you could rinse the pork in a salt water brine (water with salt in it) or splash vinegar on the meat then rinse. Both Salt and Vinegar are known to kill germs.
- Salt & Pepper the meat
- I like to brown meat before cooking in a slow cooker so after browning the pork
- Add the pork to the slow cooker, with a small amount of water.
- Cook with the temperature on high till the pot heats up
- When the pot is hot, lower temperature to the low setting till the meat is fall-apart tender, 3 – 4 hours or more depending on your slow cooker.
- When Pork is tender remove the pork from the juices and shred with two forks set aside
- Cool the juices, when cold remove the fat, then add the juices back to the shredded meat
- In a skillet lightly cook the pork till a little crunchy, this is optional, the pork is good without crunching up to me.