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
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.