Slow Cooker Carnitas — Juicy, Tender, Healthy, and Spicy!

Carnitas done well is one of my very favorite tacos or burritos or plates at a Mexican restaurant.  Carnitas done poorly are gross and virtually inedible.  I’m happy to say that after a few tests, the recipe we found (and slightly modified) at Gina’s Skinny Taste falls squarely into the former category.  Tasty and spicy and apparently healthy (says Gina and my wife), it is a relatively easy dish to throw in the crockpot in the morning and enjoy after work (or a hike, or whatever else you want to do all day).

It calls for a 2 1/2 pound shoulder blade roast, browned in a skillet and then impregnated (?) with garlic and tossed into the crockpot with surprisingly little else.  When it is done, it is easily shredded and served on corn tortillas along with standard street taco accessories/condiments and beans or salad of your choosing (we chose a randomly assembled corn/black bean salad).  When you use 2 chipotles and adobo seasoning (see note below), it is quite mild and suitable even for children and wimpy adults.  If you use 4 chipotles and chili powder, it has a bit of a bite!  You can make it milder and have a hot salsa available for the more adventurous eaters if  the heat tolerance varies a bit in your home.

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Trimmed and browned pork blade roast

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Garlic-studded and seasoned pork roast (note: as stated below, we preferred chili powder to the yellow adobo powder seen above)

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Roast in crock pot with broth, chipotles, and bay leaves

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Bone already pulled out, roast falls to pieces easily and is ready to shred.

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Fork-shredded, mixed with juices and ready to serve!

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Fork-shredded, mixed with juices and ready to serve!

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Garnish with your toppings of choice.

Gina's Slow Cooker Carnitas
 
Weight Watchers Info: 4 PointsPlus (if portion into 8 servings)
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Latin
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2.5 lb shoulder blade roast
  • 6 cloves garlic, slivered (cut into matchsticks)
  • Mexican seasoning (Southwest Essence, Cholula dry seasoning, or other seasoned salt)
  • Cumin
  • Adobo (Gina’s recipe calls for adobo, we prefer chili powder–see note below)
  • Garlic Powder
  • ¾ cup fat free chicken broth
  • 2-3 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (we used 4, and chopped the peppers)
  • 2 Bay leaves
Instructions
  1. Trim as much fat as possible off the pork roast
  2. Season pork roast with Mexican Seasoning (or simply salt and pepper)
  3. Brown on all sides in medium pan
  4. When cool enough to handle, stab with steely knives, creating holes all around the pork
  5. Insert garlic slivers into pork–if you have more garlic than holes, make more holes!
  6. Season all over with appropriate amounts of cumin, garlic powder and adobo (or chili powder–see below)
  7. Place pork in crock pot
  8. Add chicken broth, chopped chipotles, and bay leaves
  9. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours
  10. Pull out bay leaves and bone, shred meat with two forks
  11. Mix meat in with juices in the crock pot, cook for another 30 minutes
  12. Serve on warm corn tortillas with onion, cilantro, salsa, avocados, or whatever else you heart desires…
Notes
Note 1: Adobo is a yellowish dry spice, originating in Puerto Rico. The first couple of times we made this, we thought adobo was related to the chipotles in adobo sauce that we use more often, and are actually used in this recipe. Since we didn’t have anything called “adobo’ that was a chili powder, we just substituted chili powder. Then coincidentally, a buddy of mine gave me some Badia Adobo Powder totally out of the blue. So this past time, we actually used the proper adobo powder on the carnitas, but to tell the truth, we actually preferred it with the chili powder. So use what you wish…

Note 2: Gina claims this dish serves 8. Wifey also insists that it serves 8, if we actually observe proper Weight Watchers™ portions. As a person who likes 3 meaty tacos at a sitting, I’d say it is closer to 4-6 servings, but the WW PointsPlus reflect 8 serving portions.

Note 3: We have since done this recipe with a pork loin roast multiple times and it turns out great! Definitely leaner than a shoulder roast, and we didn’t feel it was too dry at all!

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