Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kimiko's Carnitas and our Easter Menu

In honor of Easter coming up next week, I've decided to post my carnitas recipe.  Yes, I realize that carnitas and Easter don't really go together for most people; however, the family is going to be together and we wanted to do something easy that didn't take away from family time.  As I got to thinking about what we would have, the idea of spending hours making a meal that would take (probably) minutes to eat is ridiculous!  Especially when we're with out-of-town family.  So this year, we decided to have carnitas, since we'd be able to throw them in the slow cooker before church and have them done when we're ready to eat.  In addition, we're also planning on having homemade refried beans, guacamole, brown rice, chips, resurrection rolls, and some other dessert (probably cheesecake - to be determined).  Much of the prep work will be able to be done a day or two before and we can just reheat on Sunday afternoon, leaving more time for enjoying time with each other (not to mention, less clean-up too)!

And yes, I realize that Sumiko posted a recipe for carnitas a few months ago.  In posting another recipe for carnitas, I'm not saying that her recipe isn't good.  I'm simply saying that I also have a recipe that I use and that we like a lot!!!  I actually got it from my sister-in-law and it has become a favorite in our house! Don't skip the last step in the oven - that really makes this meal!

Oh, and a note on the meat.  I recommend using a fatty cut, like a shoulder roast or a pork butt.  The fat will cook down and will result in a super tender, juicy, and flavorful meal.  Cuts like loin roasts aren't really fatty enough and won't give you the tenderness of the flavor you're looking for.  I must confess that when I made it and took pictures, my pork butt wasn't large enough, so I added a little chunk of loin roast.  Since it didn't have the fat, I made sure to put it on the bottom, under the pork butt, so it would still cook in the fats from the other pork.  When I shredded it, you could definitely tell a huge difference in flavor between the two cuts, but I mixed it all up, making it harder to tell the difference.  Additionally, to make this meal more cost-effective, I wait until pork butt goes on sale for under $2/lb (which is quite often where I live).

The pork butt - notice all the marbling.

Pork loin is good for things like pork chops,
but not the best choice for carnitas.  Notice how
different this looks than the pork butt.

Kimiko's Carnitas
4 lb pork shoulder or pork butt roast
3 tsp salt
3 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
4 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1 Tbsp chicken bouillon
1 onion, diced

In a small bowl, combine salt, cumin, oregano, coriander, paprika, chili powder, and cinnamon if using.  Set aside.

Place chopped onions, water, bouillon, and bay leaves in the bottom of your slow cooker.

Prepare the roast by trimming it of most of the excess fat on the outside of the roast (there is still plenty of fat throughout the meat itself).  Cut the roast into 4 or 5 large chunks.  Rub garlic onto meat, making sure each piece is adequately covered.  Reserve 1 Tbsp of your dry spice mixture and set aside for later.  Rub the remaining dry spice mixture over meat, covering all surface areas; place meat in slow cooker.

I love the natural light!  I don't photograph food using natural light too often, due to the fact that my kitchen is no where near a window.  However, I had a little extra time to spare this day and kept running over to the sliding glass door in the living room with my food to take pictures.  I'm pretty sure my 3-year-old thinks I'm crazy - and she's probably right!

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  

Mmmm...perfectly tender!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Shred cooked meat and spread it evenly over a jelly roll pan.  Pour some of the juices from the slow cooker over the meat, then sprinkle it with the reserved spice mixture.  Bake 10-15 minutes, or until the juices have evaporated and the meat gets a little crispy.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!  This takes it from delicious to absolutely AMAZING!!  

Before crisping in the oven...

...after crisping.  Yum!
Serve with tortillas, and your choice of toppings, like rice, beans (pinto, refried, or black), lettuce, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), salsa, avocado or guacamole, and cheese (we like Monterey Jack).  Keep in mind that incorporating rice and/or beans will reduce the cost of your meal, since you'll be using less meat!

I apologize that I have no picture of this as the final product (ie on a tortilla along with the other toppings), but I had been smelling this amazing meal cook ALL DAY LONG and I was hungry and neglected to snap a photo.  On a side note, instead of putting this in a tortilla, you can make a salad or a rice bowl out of it.  Just put it on some lettuce and rice, along with whatever other options you choose and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Looks yummy. I am currently marinating some beef for slow cooker barbacoa beef. Thanks for keeping up the blog ladies :) mariam

Michelle P said...

WE just had these the other day!...was looking through the ingredients and noticed that you didn't include the cinnamon-- did you guys decide you like it better without it?

Sumiko said...

Michelle, I like them with the cinnamon and can tell when it's missing. My recipe is a little different, but I think the cinnamon takes it from great to amazing. I think Kimiko just can't get past the fact that cinnamon belongs with sweet, not savory. =-)

Kimiko said...

Michelle, yep, my sister's right. I just can't handle cinnamon in savory food! :) However, I realize that other people might be fine with it, so I added it as optional. :)

Michelle P said...

haha, that is too funny! I didn't know that about you kimiko!...david has his list of "sweets" not allowed in savory as well, but it's mostly fruits. :)

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