It’s been awhile since I spoke of my love of the slow cooker, AKA Crock Pot. In my early days as a chef, I used to look down on these gadgets, associating them with bad casseroles and 1970’s cooking. I quickly changed my tune though when I started playing with them and realized what great vessels they were for slowly braising all sorts of meats and dishes. It allows me to start a dish in the morning, before work, making for a quick but tasty dinner soon after I get home.
While you do most of the cooking, for this dish, in the slow cooker, it does need to be finished on the stove top to evaporate the remaining liquid and fry the meat in its rendered fat. Luckily this doesn’t take too long, just about the time it will take you to get the condiments together and heat up the tortillas.
Forget the bottled salsa with these tacos. I prefer the standard accompaniment of finely diced onion, jalapeno and cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Slow Cooker Carnitas
serves 6-8 people
5 pounds pork roast (I used a shoulder roast, whatever you use it should have plenty of fat in it as you need the fat to finish the dish)
1 can Rotel (original flavor)*
1 Tbl. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
Start your preparations in the morning, before work. Pour the Rotel into your slow cooker. Fill the can 3/4’s of way with water and add that also. Place the pork roast in the slow cooker and sprinkle with the chili powder and cumin. Generously season the meat with plenty of salt and pepper. Turn the slow cooker to “low,” cover and allow to cook while you’re at work.
When you get home, 8 hours later, the pork should be fully cooked and quite tender. Break up the pork into large pieces (2-3 bites each) and transfer the meat, along with all the juices and fat to a large nonreactive pot. Place over high heat and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, leaving just the pork and the rendered fat in the pan. Allow the pork to fry in its own fat until it starts to brown around the edges and crisp up slightly. Stir occasionally as it will want to stick at this point. By this time the pork should have broken down into small, bite sized pieces or smaller. If not break it up a bit more.
Serve with corn tortillas that have been briefly grilled to warm then through. Top with a mixture of finely diced onion, jalapeno and cilantro, and finally, with a squeeze of fresh lime.