Can you believe I had never eaten carnitas until last year?
Seriously. What kind of Mexican American am I?
I have memories of visiting my grandmother in Mexico and being captured by the smell of carnitas at every taco stand along the streets.
Yet, it wasn’t until two years ago when I got over my pork fears (thanks to a previous vegan lifestyle) that I discovered the magnificence of pork. That’s right, I only started eating bacon two years ago.
It also wasn’t until the Whole30 that I realized that I couldn’t eat chicken and fish forever, how boring would that get? So in an act of bravery I bought my first pork shoulder and researched how to cook it. I came across chef and author Rick Bayless, who spent some time in Mexico and wrote a few books on Mexico’s cuisine.
“Carnitas” originate from the state of Michoacán, it translates to “little meats.” Traditionally, it is simmered in lard until crisp and golden on the outside (about 4 hours) and juicy on the inside. This is how I remember it from my visits to Mexico as a child, but let’s be honest, how many of us would rather just fix it and forget it?
Enter my favorite kitchen appliance, the slow cooker.
I looooove this recipe. It makes a regular appearance in my weekly menu planning. Not only is pork shoulder a cheap cut of meat (I can usually find it for 2.99 a pound at Sprouts), but it’s one of the easiest recipes to make. Bonus, it’s totally Whole30 compliant!
This is my go to recipe when I know I’m going to have a busy day ahead of me. I start it in the morning and when I come home the smell of carnitas fills the air. Then, it’s a simple as throwing it on top of a bed of romaine and dressing it up with salsa and guacamole. To make things even simpler, I’ve been using the Wholly guacamole cups I get at Costco (yes, sometimes I’m that lazy). Add a side of fried plantains or your favorite tortilla chips and you’re good to go!
Of course if you have the energy, you can always roast up some sliced bell peppers and throw those in as well, the more veggies the better.
A few days ago I put together a quick IG story and posted my simple carnitas bowl on my feed, not long after I had a few requests for the recipe.
So, here it is!
If you make the recipe, I’d love to hear how you dressed yours up. Or what other ways you used your carnitas, feel free to leave me a comment!
**Quick note: 2.5 lbs is usually (depending on how hungry we are) enough to feed my boyfriend and I, as well as have leftovers for lunch the next day. So this should be enough for 4 people, depending on your appetites. For even more leftovers (great for freezing) double up the recipe!
- 3 tsp minced garlic (I use the jarred kind because I'm all about easy on this one)
- 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chile pepper
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2.5lb Pork Shoulder, bone in
Combine the garlic, sea salt, dried oregano, cumin, chipotle chilie pepper, and cinnamon.
Place sliced onions in slow cooker.
Rub the mix all over the pork and place on top of onions.
Add the bay leaf and chicken stock. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Remove the bay leaf, bone and fat (it will literally fall off). Shred with two forks and combine in juices.