What are Carnitas?
Before we get to the recipe we figured we better answer the question we were asked so many times after posting this recipe, and honestly one that we asked before we made it too.
What are Carnitas? And why is it any different than regular cooked meat?
After a little research, I found that carnitas are a Mexican specialty of seasoned pulled pork, traditionally fried in lard, with a mixture of juicy and crispy browned parts. Carnitas are great in sandwiches, or as a filling for tamales.
This recipe for pork carnitas is definitely not fried in lard, but slow cooked to perfection with delicious spices and then broiled for that perfect crispy texture on the edges.
So although these may not be traditional carnitas, it’s definitely a healthier and tastier version.
Tips for Cooking Meat in a Slow Cooker
I used to hate cooking anything in my slow cooker because I felt like it always came out dry and flavorless.For some reason, everything I cooked in my slow cooker tasted exactly the same.
If you’re looking for a good slow cooker, we’d highly recommend this programmable one!
After so much trial and error I finally found the secret to making delicious meat that literally falls apart when you even touch it with a fork. Here are a few tips we’d suggest:
1. Choose the Right Cut of Meat
This can be one of the most important factors in getting good results from your slow cooker. Fatty and tougher meats tend to do best (chuck roasts, pork shoulders, and short ribs).
Leaner meats will dry out quicker in your slow cooker. When cooking chicken, we’d recommend substituting the darker parts of the chicken like thighs and drumsticks for the breasts. These will be much juicier.
2. Low and Slow
This is something to always remember when cooking in your slow cooker. You want to keep the temperature on low, if possible, and let it cook all day. Try and avoid the “high” setting as much as possible when cooking with meat.
3. Include Enough Liquids
Another very important rule when cooking meat in the slow cooker is making sure you have enough liquid. If you don’t have any liquid with your meat, it won’t have anything to make it moist.
If you’re cooking chicken breasts, a great liquid to throw in is some chicken broth. It’s a much tastier alternative to water. Beef broth works great with beef as well.
4. Don’t Take Off Your Lid
This is much easier said than done! It’s important to fight the urge to lift the lid to check on your recipe or give it a stir.
In most cases, stirring halfway through is not necessary, unless otherwise noted in the recipe directions. Remember every time you do open your lid, it will add about 15 extra minutes of cook time.
How to Serve Pork Carnitas
Our favorite way to serve pork carnitas is in the form of tacos. Spoon some meat onto your favorite quesadilla and top with traditional taco condiments. Here’s what we like to top ours with:
- Green peppers
- Red peppers
- Sliced tomato
- Cheddar cheese
- Lime juice
- Sour cream
Related recipe: need dinner on the table quicker? Try our Instant Pot Carnitas recipe.
This meat also works great in burritos, enchiladas, or even on top of your favorite salad. It makes great leftovers too!
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What to Serve with Pork Carnitas
Looking for a good side to serve with your Pork Carnitas? Here are a few of our favorites!
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Recipe
- 3 pound pork roast
- 15 ounces enchilada sauce 1 can
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 Tablespoon garlic
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- Place roast in slow cooker sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the roast.
- Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours (I would recommend the low setting). Remove roast from slow cooker when finished cooking and shred using two forks (it should fall apart pretty easily).
- Cover a large baking sheet (15x10x1") with foil and spread the shredded meat on top of it. Pour some of the liquid from the slow cooker over the meat (I used about 1 1/2 cups - use as much or as little as you like).
- Broil meat for about 5 minutes, until it starts to caramelize around the edges (I flipped my meat once during this time).
- Slow Cooker
- Non-stick Cooking Spray
- Mixing Bowl
- Large Baking Sheet
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