My Carnitas Recipe or Wow! Did You See the Size of Your Mom's Butt?

I am still searching northern New Jersey for authentic Mexican food. Looking for an Italian restaurant? There is one on every street corner. Craving a Dunkin Donuts latte? There is one next to the Italian restaurant on every street corner.

During our stint in Southern California, we were spoiled with all the Mexican restaurants. One frequent stop for our family was Sagebrush Cantina. The food was good, but not great Mexican. The attraction was that my 3 toddler kids and I could show up about 5 p.m. and get a table outside with chips and salsa and a margarita (on the rocks with salt please) and my husband would stop by after work. Before you call child welfare services, I will clarify that the margarita was for The Mom. The kids drank lemonade.

Craving some Mexican food, I decided on Carnitas for dinner. The slow cooked pork is shredded or cubed and crisped up in a hot oven. It is delicious in tacos, burritos, quesedillas, or just about any Mexican entree you want to put it in. Most recipes call for a slow cook in a dutch oven. Not in the mood to stick around while my Carnitas cooked, I opted for a crock pot method.

Slow cooking of the pork began early in the morning. Into the crock pot went a pork butt seasoned with cumin, salt, and pepper, a bottle of beer, a couple sliced onions, some cubenelle peppers, whole garlic cloves, and a sliced orange for the 9 hour cooking time.

As my son descended the stairs to the kitchen at about 7 in the morning, he was greeted by my husband exclaiming, "Wow! Did you see the size of your Mom's butt?"

With a curious and slightly disgusted look on his face he replied, "Uh, no."

"I mean the pork butt your Mom just put in the crock pot," my husband clarified.

Still with a grossed out look on his face, he said, "No Dad. I haven't seen Mom's butt."

After some online research, I discovered that pork butt is not actually the butt of a pig. It is part of the shoulder. But isn't it more fun to say pork butt than pork shoulder?

The pork butt spent the day in the crock pot. It really is not a pretty sight.

It is removed from the pot cooled slightly, shredded and put on a large baking sheet with the peppers and onions. A couple cups of the cooking liquid were drizzled over the top followed by 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. The resulting pork was both crispy and melt-in-your-mouth good.

The Carnitas was served with fresh salsa, black beans spiked with cumin, salt, and freshly ground pepper, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, salsa verde, and warmed flour tortillas.

An added benefit of making a 7 pound pork butt for Carnitas is that there are bound to be leftovers. Is it almost lunch time?

1 (6 to 7 pound) bone-in pork butt or shoulder
2 medium onions, sliced
3 cubenelle peppers, sliced in long strips
1 orange, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 bottle of beer

for serving --
flour tortillas wrapped in foil and warmed in oven
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
black beans
fresh salsa
salsa verde

Generously sprinkle the pork with salt, pepper, and cumin. Place the onions in the bottom of the crock pot and top with pork. Add the peppers, orange slices, garlic cloves, and the beer. Set the crock pot to low and cook for about 9 - 10 hours or until the pork shreds easily.

After the cooking time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the pork from pot and cool slightly before shredding in bite-sized pieces. Discard any fat and bones. Place pork on a large rimmed baking sheet along the the peppers and onions from the pot. Pour about 2 cups of the cooking liquid over the pork and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. Some of the pork should be browned and crispy while some is juicy and tender.

Remove from oven and serve with flour tortillas, shredded cheese, black beans, and salsas.


Patsyk said...

Good Mexican restaurants are hard to find in NJ. There's a hole in the wall place in S. Jersey that my in-laws took us to that was pretty good - I think it was called Mexico Lindo. It would be so nice to get a good one out here, as I don't care for the chains that we do have.

Looks like you've made a great dish at home, so at least you can still enjoy the flavors.

Aggie said...

That's a pretty funny pork butt story, we tend to joke about the name too, it is just more fun to say!

We LOVE carnitas...I have to make this. Your pictures look awesome!!

I can totally relate (right now) to the finding a toddler friendly restaurant...I can picture your table all too clearly! Thank God for margaritas!! ;)

Jan said...

Yummy yum yum! Looks like a great job you did there.

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I am so making this...and then blogging it, linking back to you of course (if that's ok?), cause I'm looking at that beautiful plate of pig and drooling right now! Thank you!!!

EAT! said...

Lisa - get your crock pot out and start crocking!! Hope you enjoy your pork butt.

teresa said...

Oh that looks good. Good authentic Mexican restaurants have been hard to find in Philly too, I might have to just make my own like you did!

Dawn said...

Wonderful! And you know the leftovers make awesome, really awesome hash.

Rindy R said...

This looks ridiculously good - and easy to boot! This one is going on my 'To Try" list! YUM!

sallybranwyn said...

Funny, we also had a whole in the wall dirty Mexican restaurant called Mexico Lindo, only it was in Michigan.

Way to make me drool all over my keyboard. Must. Have. Pork. Butt.

Kathy - Panini Happy said...

LOL - sounds like our husbands share the same sense of humor! I can just imagine the fantastic aromas in your kitchen for those 9 hours. :-)

Ginny said...

Great looking carnitas recipe. And the story about your son is priceless.

MaryBeth said...

That looks very very good...I mean like drooling on the key board good!!

Lisa said...

Funny! This looks great.

Robin Sue said...

I love cooking with beer. It does add a depth of flavor to the slow cooked meat. Great recipe, will bookmark for sure. Thanks!

Sara said...

This looks so good, my husband loves carnitas - can't wait to make it for him!

Colleen said...

Ooh I have never made carnitas. This will be my first recipe for them!

recipes2share said...

This looks so melt-in-the-mouth!

luckytastebuds said...

that just looks ridiculously yummy. YUMMMYYY!!!

Sandie said...

Cute story---and your carnitas look absolutely fantastic! I would end up eating about a half dozen of them I'm sure (not too lady like to admit though, is it?) :)

finsmom said...

What a cute story! Im sure your bum is just perfect :)

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Gosh, this makes me miss Texas and all of their wonderful Mexican food. These look wonderful. You're making me hungry and it's only 9am.

mageroo said...

I can't find cubanelle peppers locally. What is a good substitute?

EAT! said...

mageroo - I have also made this using poblano peppers - try those if you can find them.

prtybrd said...

You should try a place called Chapala Grill in Bergenfield. It's actually not bad for New Jersey, and this is coming from someone that grew up in Texas.