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Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos ~ Mexican Pulled Pork

Slow cooked pork is braised in an aromatic broth, cubed, and finished off under the broiler, resulting in succulent, caramelized carnitas that are delicious in tacos or as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more!

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) ~ perfect for taco night or Cinco de Mayo | FiveHeartHome.comI’ve officially decided that May is one of the best months of the year. Spring is in full swing with the promise of summer beckoning, but before the excruciating heat sets in (yet). The school year is winding down and thoughts are turning to camps, swimming, vacation plans, and no more school lunches to pack for the immediate future (can I hear an AMEN?!). And on the 5th of May, we get to gorge ourselves on all of our favorite Mexican cuisine and beverages in observance of Cinco de Mayo!

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) ~ perfect for taco night or Cinco de Mayo | FiveHeartHome.comNow I already waxed poetic about Cinco de Mayo the other day, and I believe we established my love of Mexican food (or around here, Tex-Mex) long ago. So what say I curtail the chit chat and get on with the recipe?

Y’all know I love a good crock pot dinner, and this is a newer one in my repertoire. I’ve already shared my family favorite Slow Cooker Chicken and Black Bean Tacos, but today I have a different spin on tacos for you. Carnitas is a Mexican dish that involves chunks of tender, braised pork that are then crisped up in a frying pan or under the broiler. The resulting shredded meat can be used to stuff tacos, top tostadas, fill burritos, etc., etc.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) ~ perfect for taco night or Cinco de Mayo | FiveHeartHome.comCooking the pork in the slow cooker is essentially effortless. However, I still recommend taking a few additional minutes to complete the final step of caramelizing after crock potting, which sets carnitas apart from regular ol’ pulled pork. While you could certainly just shred up your slow cooked pork and call it a day, spreading it out on a sheet pan and broiling it for a few minutes (along with some of the reduced cooking liquid) makes for an even more delicious final result.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) ~ perfect for taco night or Cinco de Mayo | FiveHeartHome.comSpeaking of this carnitas cooking liquid, it happens to be full of aromatics, including plenty of garlic as well as a whole orange. It also includes a whole onion and, as my longtime friends and family members (and some of my dear readers, by now) can attest, I loathe onions. As in, seriously detest them. So consider it a culinary sacrifice that I decided to try out this recipe with a real, actual onion. I didn’t even know how to peel and cut the dang thing, and the only reason I went out on a limb here is because I knew I’d be fishing out the whole onion before commencing with the final dish.

But what do you know? The pork ended up having great flavor, and I didn’t even taste the onion. I supposed my taste buds may finally be growing up! Perhaps in about 50 more years I’ll be able to bite into an onion without gagging.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) ~ perfect for taco night or Cinco de Mayo | FiveHeartHome.comNow back to the recipe! You can gussy up these tacos in any way you like. On this particular day, I kept them simple, with a squeeze of lime, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of fresh minced cilantro. But they would also be divine topped with generous amounts of cheese, avocado, tomatoes, and salsa. Or you could take a different approach with thinly sliced radishes and minced {shudder} onion. Along the same lines, I used corn tortillas here, but flour tortillas would also be tasty. Tacos are very personal…adorn them as you see fit.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) ~ perfect for taco night or Cinco de Mayo | FiveHeartHome.comWhether you decide to try out these tacos for Cinco de Mayo or whether Mexican entrees are a staple at your house all year long, I hope you’ll keep these pork carnitas in mind for your next taco night. Give them a try, peeps…you’ll be happy you did! :)

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos ~ Mexican Pulled Pork

Yield: 8 servings

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos ~ Mexican Pulled Pork

Slow cooked pork is braised in an aromatic broth, cubed, and finished off under the broiler, resulting in succulent, caramelized carnitas that are delicious in tacos or as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more!

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless pork butt (shoulder) roast
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 onion, peeled & quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 orange
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • For serving:
  • Corn (or flour) tortillas
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh minced cilantro
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado chunks
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Salsa
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Minced onion

Directions

  1. Place pork in large slow cooker. Cover with chicken stock. Add onion, garlic, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves to crock pot. Slice orange in half and squeeze juice, which should equal approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup, discarding any seeds. Add orange juice and spent orange halves to crock pot. Sprinkle liberally with freshly ground black pepper and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (or high for 4 to 5 hours).
  2. Once pork is cooked and tender, remove from crock pot to a cutting board. Discard onion quarters, orange halves, and bay leaves, and strain any other solids from cooking liquid (it's okay to leave in the melted fat, as this will keep the carnitas moist). Pour strained liquid into a medium pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until total amount is reduced to about 1 to 1 1/2 cups.
  3. In the meantime, adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat broiler. While broiler is heating, trim fat from pork and discard, then cut pork into 1-inch chunks (it's okay if it somewhat shreds while you do this).
  4. Once cooking liquid is reduced, season it generously with salt and pepper, and gently stir liquid into pork chunks. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Spread pork in an even layer onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil in center position of oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until pork begins to brown and the edges turn dark and crispy. Remove pan from oven and use a wide spatula to flip pork, then return to oven for 5 to 10 more minutes to crisp up the other side as well. Serve hot with taco fixings.

Tips, Tricks, & Variations

Cuts of pork can be really confusing. Pork butt is actually a part of the shoulder. It is sometimes called Boston butt. If you are unsure of what to buy, don't hesitate to ask your butcher! My grocery store was out of pork butt when I shopped for this recipe, so I ended up using pork loin, which accounts for the lighter color of the pork in these photos. I recommend using pork butt/shoulder if you can find it, because it will turn out moister. The meat will also end up looking darker than what's pictured in this recipe.

If you're in a hurry to eat, you may simply shred your cooked pork and stir in the desired amount of strained cooking liquids, skipping the steps of reducing the broth and broiling the chunks of pork. Just keep in mind that you won't enjoy the full flavor as enhanced by caramelization!

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/05/01/slow-cooker-carnitas-tacos-mexican-pulled-pork/

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook.

And to accompany your tacos…

 Fresh Pineapple Margaritas ~ made with fresh lime juice and pineapple purée, these are perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo | FiveHeartHome.comFresh Pineapple Margaritas

Cheddar and Sour Cream Queso ~ instead of processed cheese, this creamy dip boasts loads of flavor from all natural ingredients | {Five Heart Home}Cheddar & Sour Cream Queso

Texas Salsa | {Five Heart Home}Fresh Texas Salsa

And click here for more crock pot recipes!

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I always love hearing from you! ~ samantha {at} five heart home {dot} com

This post may be linked up to House of Rose, 4 Little Fergusons, and these fabulous parties!

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Comments

  1. A few weeks ago I went to a restaurant that had this type of pork in enchiladas. I could not believe how good it was. Oh my. So good that I made it point to go back a couple of weeks later for the same dish. I normally don’t order the same thing twice in a row. The problem with this is, one will never want a Oh Hum hamburger taco again.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      This pork is so easy to make, Carol, that you won’t even need to make ho hum ground beef tacos again! Actually, they’re both delicious in different ways. ;) But I hope you enjoy these carnitas if you end up trying them!

  2. OH! MY! WORD! Carnitas is my absolute weakness. I can’t get enough – I think this will be my new favorite recipe. We will see how long it takes the family to tell me to stop making it- because I may try to use it in every single meal :) No joke – I could eat it all day- everyday.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You and me both, Gina! What’s nice about this recipe is that you can use leftovers in a different way for as long as they last…tacos one day, burritos the next, quesadillas the next. As long as your family likes Mexican food and you start with a big hunk of pork, you might not have to cook for a few days! ;) Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  3. Carnitas are one of my favorite things to eat. Yours look fantastic. And them being in the slow cooker makes them even better :)

  4. Samantha, these look delicious! I’d love to see you link them up at my Skip The Housework party!

  5. Shirley says:

    This sound yummy

  6. I love this recipe. Thanks so much.

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  1. […] Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos by Five Heart Home […]

  2. […] start with these delicious Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos – Mexican Pulled Pork shared by Samantha. You slow cook the pork then braise it in an aromatic broth and finish it off […]

  3. […] Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos […]

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