Fine, I’ll say it. If I could eat Mexican food every day of my life, I absolutely would. The really embarrassing part is that I’m not even snobby about it. A breakfast burrito from the brunch place down the street or–God help me–even a Taco Bell gordita can be just as satisfying as something legit.
But let’s never speak of that again.
Thankfully, one of my very favorite Mexican recipes to make at home skews slightly more toward the legit. I’m sure the millions of Mexican grandmothers who aren’t busy hiding out from druglord kidnappers are having heart palpitations thinking of the way I’m bastardizing their carnitas, but too bad. This is delish.
Here’s the recipe I use for Slow Cooker Carnitas.
The recipe calls for a 4-lb. pork roast, but I’ve never used anything more than 2 lbs. Mostly because the thought of having 4 lbs. of shredded flesh in my kitchen kind of skeeves me out. 2 lbs? No sweat. 4? Eh… The important thing is that I don’t adjust the seasoning, even though I’m using a considerably smaller hunk of meat. Trust me. Your tastebuds will sing and dance.
1 t salt
1 t garlic powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t ground coriander
1/4 t ground cinnamon
2-ish lb. pork roast
2 bay leaves
2 c chicken broth
Just mix all the spices together and rub them all over the roast. It’s gonna get messy. Just go with it. When your meat is all dressed up, place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker, plop the pork on top of them, gently pour the broth around the roast, and cook it all on low for 10 hours. Flip the meat halfway through, but otherwise, just leave it alone. Take the meat out of the liquid and use 2 forks to shred it up. It’ll be so tender it will practically collapse when you touch it, so this doesn’t take long. Now, here’s the best part.
Take a warm tortilla (I prefer corn for this), fill it with some shredded pork, top the pork with fresh avocado slices, a little cheese, some fresh cilantro if you’re feeling sassy, and the secret ingredient: PICKLED ONIONS.
The pickled onions make this taco a miracle. Just make sure you put them together a couple of days in advance to give them time to get just as tangy, spicy, crunchy, and wonderful as they need to be. Here’s what you’ll need, mostly following the lead of Evil Shenanigans:
At LEAST 48 hours
1 medium-sized clean, tightly-closing jar
1 c white vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
A generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for heat (you could also use a hot pepper)
1/2 t cumin
2 whole cloves
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t mustard seeds
1 medium to large red onion, halved and sliced into thin half-moons
Just put everything (except the onion and the jar, natch) into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the sliced onion and let it boil for another minute or so, then take the pan off the heat and let it cool before transferring everything to the jar. Close tightly and store in the fridge for at least a couple of days before enjoying.
Y’all. These things are magic. They take the tacos to a whole new level, but they’re also great on salads, brats (yep, I’m in Wisconsin), and, as I discovered at lunch today, quesadillas made with leftover filet mignon, cheddar, mozzarella, and diced green pepper.
Now, go forth and gorge, my friends.