Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pork Carnitas - Low Carb and Frugal

Carnitas. Sounds fancy doesn't it?  It's not at all fancy or complicated.  If I can do it anybody can do it.  It's just braised or slow cooked meat (generally pork, although I have done it with beef and antelope) that has been shredded and warmed up/crisped in a skillet.  It's one of the meals my family of five eats all the time.  Everybody in my house loves it and it lasts for days.  Unless of course we have company then it's usually gobbled up in a blink. It's low-carb friendly and it's a meal that can seriously stretch a dollar.

It can be:
  • put into tacos (soft or crispy)
  •  made into taquitos
  • put on top of a salad
  • in a lettuce wrap
  • paired with roasted veggies
  • cooked with shredded cabbage and onions
  • cooked with scrambled eggs for an easy breakfast
  • or just eaten with your fingers straight from the skillet
Not that I would know anything about that last suggestion. <blushing>  The uses are as limitless as your imagination.  I made some for my family yesterday and thought I'd share my general recipe.  For most of you that know me, my "recipes" are very loose and most things never get measured and the dishes turn out similar, but never exactly the same.  However, this dish is very forgiving and turns out consistently delicious every single time.  I've tweaked it until I have what I think is worthy of sharing.

Start with a 3-4 pound pork roast, I prefer it if it with the bone-in and with a good little slab of fat on the bottom, but you can find leaner cuts if that's your preference

wash and dry it with a paper towel, then rub a little oil over it.  You can use any oil, however, I am currently in love with coconut oil so that's what I use.  (So much so, that my friends and family actually make fun of me)
Then mix together the dry rub ingredients:
  • 3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. dried jalapeno bits (or you can just chop up 1 whole fresh jalapeno, but I HATE dealing with the juices on my fingers, so I use the dried stuff)
Sprinkle and rub the dry ingredients all over the roast.  Put the roast in your crock pot (fat side down), set on high and get on with your day. I had gotten distracted yesterday morning when I started the meat and skipped a usual step. My husband asked if there should be onions or liquid or "something else" in the crock pot.  I said that "yes, I usually add a chopped onion or two and squeeze an orange or two over the meat".  So he very graciously did that step for me.  This is the meat after about 1 hour of cooking with the new ingredients added.

pork roast after 1 hr. in slow cooker

After about 5 hours on high, you take the meat out and shred it with two forks. It generally falls apart of it's own free will.  LOL

pork roast after 5 hours in slow cooker on high

shredding with two forks

after adding liquid from slow cooker and extra spices
Put the shredded meat in a skillet, add the liquid and melted onions from the crock pot.  Discard whatever is left of the oranges.  I also have discovered that this is the stage where I like to add more of the original seasonings.  I sprinkle in more of pretty much everything except salt.  I have also been known to add another orange and sqeeze the juice on the shredded meat. Then you just cook on med. to med. high until the extra liquid has cooked out and you're happy with it's flavorful golden-brown crispiness.

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