Friday, November 30, 2012

Grub It Up: Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas - Two Ways

In an effort to eat semi-healthily this holiday season (well, at least for the few days in between the weeks spent celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years), mom has been firing up the slow cooker a lot lately. It's easy, it makes a ton of food, and, um, it's easy. At first I was upset because I thought mom was literally up "cooking all night" and she wouldn't let me stay up and help. I help get everything in the pot, but I was under the impression that "letting it cook overnight" meant mom was up having fun without me all night. Once mom explained that if she was going to be up all night doing anything, it wasn't going to be cooking, I got back on board with this whole slow cooker thing.

It's rare that we will all eat the same thing, but we all LOVED these pork carnitas, which are relatively healthy and easily adaptable. Mom and dad ate them more traditionally -- in a tortilla -- and Cam and I worked them into brinner, a meal we request pretty much every night. Mom adapted this SkinnyTaste recipe and it turned out super yummy.

Here's the dealio for our tweaked version, which makes 8, 1/2 cup servings:

Carnitas Ingredients
- 2.5 lb pork shoulder blade roast, lean, all fat removed
- 6 cloves garlic, cut into sliver
- cumin
- dry adobo seasoning
- garlic powder
- 3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves

Carnitas Directions 
Season pork with salt and pepper. In a medium saute pan on medium-hight heat, brown pork on all sides for about 10 minutes -- this is an important step - it really makes the roast retain the flavor in the slow cooker. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork, cutting small holes and insert garlic slivers. Season pork generously with cumin, adobo and garlic powder all over.

Pour chicken broth in the slow cooker, add bay leaves. Place pork in cooker and cover. Cook low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, shred pork using two forks and combine well with the juices that accumulated at the bottom. Remove bay leaves and add salt and/or cumin if needed. Let it cooker for another 15-30 minutes.

Like it spicy? SkinnyTaste's recipe called for 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to go into the cooker. Mom was afraid of making it too spicy for us, so she left that out. Although she added plenty of chipotle Tabasco sauce to the adult carnitas.

Tortilla Option
Mom scooped 1/2 cup of the carnitas into a warmed whole wheat tortilla and added a few squirts of lime juice and a healthy dose of chipotle Tabasco. She topped each with 1/2 ounce of goat cheese and 1/4 of an avocado (it's the good fat, right?).

Kidfriendly Brinner Option
Mom served our carnitas with goat cheese scrambled eggs, avocado, and some fruit. We loved it -- just enough flavor without too much spice, which is good, because we have a tupperware full of it in the 'fridge.

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