Mr. M and I love carnitas! In fact, when we lived in Mexico carnitas were our favorite food to order as take out. Since moving to Florida we have not found a restaurant to order from, not to mention that we rarely eat out since moving back to the US. So, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Enter my new method of making carnitas for two.
In case you don’t know what carnitas are, they are delectable morsels of pork cooked to juicy tenderness then, usually, they are fried for a crispy outside. Well, since we are careful of our diet and I don’t actually deep fry anything, I came up with an alternative way of preparation. I cook pork short ribs in my slow cooker, drain the meat, then quickly roast the meat in a hot oven. Delicioso!
Here’s what I do:
Since there are only 2 of us, I use three or four boneless pork ribs, The meaty kind. Its important the the meat have some fat, so don’t use lean pork chops or pork loin; a really small pork butt cut into large pieces will work. They go directly into my slow cooker.
I add the spices and herbs: Salt and pepper, whole allspice and coriander, bay leaf and Mexican oregano, (or Greek or Italian), cinnamon and garlic. Notice the alternative use I have for my classic spoon rest. The branches at the top right are fresh Mexican Oregano from my garden.
Cut one orange and one lemon into quarters, squeeze the juice over the meat, then add the fruits into the slow cooker. Add one half of a large onion in large pieces and one serrano chile, or more to taste. You can add some water at this point but I don’t. The meat will produce enough juices.
A few hours later the fragrance of the meat fills the house and drives us crazy! When the meat is tender, I remove it from the slow cooker and break it into rough pieces. I spread them out onto an oven safe pan in a single layer.
I strain and reduce the juices from the slow cooker down to about a cup. Then pour about half of it over the pieces of pork.
Place the meat into a 400° F oven for 15 minutes or until slightly crispy on the outside, but still juicy, like this:
We love to eat our carnitas with tortillas, minced onion and cilantro, and fresh pinto beans.
Here’s the recipe:
3-4 meaty boneless pork ribs or a very small pork butt. Be sure the meat has some fat for flavor
1/2 teaspoon each salt, pepper, and ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste. Equivalent fresh can be used
1 teaspoon of whole coriander or 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
6 whole allspice berries or 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3-4 whole garlic cloves, or more
1/2 onion, in large pieces
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 or more Serrano, jalapeno, or other chile
Place ribs in the bottom of a slow cooker. Sprinkle spices and herbs over the meat. Squeeze the citrus juices over the meat and add the fruit to the slow cooker. Add the onion and chile. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or high for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat from the slow cooker, break into 1 to 2 inch pieces and spread in a single layer on an oven proof pan. Strain the liquid from the slow cooker and reduce to about one cup and somewhat syrupy. Discard the solids from the slow cooker, they have done their job. Pour about 1/2 cup of the reduction over the meat and roast it in a preheated 400 ° F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the outside of the meat is slightly crispy and the inside is still juicy.
Carnitas are a special party food in Mexico, but with this easy-peasy method, we can enjoy them any time! Try it and see for yourself. If you do, let me know how you like it.