With Cinco de Mayo next Tuesday, and La Chinita Poblana not at the Market, I thought I’d give you a recipe for tasty tacos using pantry items plus what you can get from the market this Saturday. See the suggestions at the end for other meats, fish, or mushrooms, plus alternatives to taco shells.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

adapted from a recipe by Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin*
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano*
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 lbs. pork shoulder or pork butt, excess fat trimmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 oranges, juiced or ½ cup orange juice**
  • 2 limes, juiced or ¼ cup lime juice**

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Season pork shoulder with spice mixture, rubbing in thoroughly on all sides.
  2. Place garlic, onions, orange juice, lime juice and seasoned pork shoulder into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  3. Remove pork shoulder from the slow cooker and shred the meat before returning to the pot with the juices; season with salt and pepper, to taste, if needed. Cover and keep warm for an additional 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to broil. Place carnitas onto a baking sheet and broil until crisp and crusted, about 3-4 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
  5. Serve immediately with any of the following toppings:
  • Chopped greens like lettuce, arugula, chard, kale, or microgreens
  • Sliced radishes
  • Shredded carrots
  • Spring onions sliced or red onion chopped
  • Any kind of salsa you have
  • Hidden Pond Farm’s Curtido or Root Kraut (pre-order)

*If you don’t have the spice ingredients, you can improvise with a can of diced chiles, some fresh oregano, chopped fresh cilantro, or a packet of taco seasoning. Maybe you bought some smoked chiles from Artisano’s last fall. Pull them out of the freezer and add some chopped up to the pot. A little hot sauce could work too.

**If you don’t have orange/lime juice, you can use all of one or the other. If you don’t have either one, you can substitute lemon, grapefruit or pineapple juice or even white or cider vinegar or a combination of these.

Not into pork? Substitute beef or chicken in a similar quantity or some type of fish although you wouldn’t do the fish in the slow cooker as it would be overdone. If using any type of fish (salmon, tilapia, cod, etc.) pan fry with similar seasoning to get the best result. You can even make it vegetarian with meaty mushrooms (also pan fried).

Load your goodies into crisp tacos, corn or flour tortillas, on top of tortilla chips to make nachos, on cornbread, or even in lettuce leaves. This makes great pulled pork sandwiches too.

A tasty taco should make social isolation a little more palatable, don’t you think? Feliz Cinco de Mayo and Happy Taco Tuesday!