I love pulled pork, particularly pork carnitas. It’s a fall off the bone, ultra flavorful melt in your mouth kind of delicious that doesn’t require much effort to cook. The formula for preparing it is quite simple. Season. Marinate. Slow Cook. Eat. That’s it. This recipe for pork carnitas is so easy to make that it has been my go-to dish for a number of unlikely occasions, such as a halloween party, a movie night, family brunch, cousins gathering, girls food night extravaganza…etc.
The most ridiculous event for which I made pork carnitas was probably Waffle Wednesday at work. At Seelio, we maintain a rotating waffle schedule, which means, every Wednesday, someone is responsible for making waffles. We keep three waffle irons, a mixing bowl, waffle mix and syrup in the office. For the less adventurous, it means we have everything on hand to create a solid waffle breakfast. For crazy food obsessed people, like me, the ingredients we have at work are more like guidelines.
One particular Wednesday, when it was my turn to cook for the team, I made cornbread waffles and pulled pork. Yup, I lugged a slow cooker filled with carnitas to work. I brought salsa, guacamole, cheese, chopped peppers, chopped jalapeños and sour cream as toppings. Quite the feast, right? It was a wonderful way to start the morning. And, for that day at least, I think I was the most loved person in the office.
For braising or slow cooking meats, I recommend first searing the meat, and then letting it slow cook. I know that it means a dirty pan, but it’s well worth the effort. Searing the meat adds an extra depth of flavor that simple slow cooking can’t accomplish. There’s actually a scientific term to describe what makes the flavors really pop: Maillard Reaction. Often nicknamed “browning reaction” or “flavor reaction,” it is a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugar that occurs at high heat. You can read more about it here, here and here.
6 pounds pork shoulder or pork butt
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons coriander
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon oil
Trim the excess fat from the pork. Don’t remove all the fat – doing so will cause the pork to dry out.
Mix all of the spices together in a bowl. Rub the spice mix on the pork, until it is well coated. Cover the pork and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. (I refrigerated the pork in my slow cooker)
When you’re ready to cook the pork, pull it out of the refrigerator. Chop the onions and add them to the slow cooker. Heat oil in a large pan, on high heat. Add the pork and cook, about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until browned. Add the pork and chicken stock to the slow cooker. Cover. Cook the pork on low for about 8 hours, or until the pork is literally falling off the bone.
Remove the pork from the slow cooker, and place it in a large bowl or plate. Shred it. Skim the fat from the remaining pork juices. Save the pork juice for storing and heating any leftover pork.
Serve the pork with corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, bean salad, chopped onions, cilantro, or any other of your favorite toppings. Make it a feast and enjoy!