Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Let me just start by saying I love pork.

Porkporkporkpork.

I mean, fritada is probably one of my all-time favorite dishes – crispy, flavorful, porky goodness.  But making fritada could be time consuming.  These chipotle and citrus carnitas however, are not.  Why?  Because it is cooked in a crockpot!  Yay!

Back in Ecuador, we didn’t eat too much pork.  My mother was terrified of trichinosis.  Therefore, she didn’t allow our nana to buy pork.  You see, back then (not sure if that is still the case), the piggies from which we got our pork meat from where not raised in the best conditions.  Pigs were not cared for in the way they should – vaccinations, cleanliness, good feed, etc.  The few times I consumed pork and usually in the form of fritada, it was prepared outside of our home – i.e. little hole-in-the-wall establishments, where cooking temperatures were dubious.  This usually happened during trips with my aunt and uncle (where mom wasn’t involved), or in school trips (in which my mom never chaperoned because she worked).  I remember my mom always warning me, “Mijita, no comas chancho”, to which I innocently responded, “Bueno, mami.”

Pffftt – yeah right!

Here is proof that may love of pork was bigger.  WAY bigger.

Eating fritada in Ecuador

Here I am in a school trip back in 10th grade (?) – we’re all stuffing our faces with fritada.  We all survived.

All these people are real.  Don’t let the special effects fool you…

After living for so long in this country, I often forget how incredible blessed we are that *generally speaking*, we don’t have to worry about where our food comes from.  I am so grateful I can eat pork without concerns.  Squeal!

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Begin by seasoning a bone-in pork butt or shoulder generously with salt, pepper and cumin.  Rub the cut well on all sides.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Although the meat will fall apart in the crockpot, I still like to poke the meat all over with a knife and get the seasoning well into the slits.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Line the bottom of the crockpot with a yellow onion, cut into chunks, and some garlic cloves.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Place the pork butt on top of the onions and garlic.  Add some orange juice,

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Followed by some lime juice.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Add a can of chipotle peppers in adobo, brown sugar, dried oregano and ground cinnamon.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Add a bit of water,

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

And break apart the sugar and spread it over the pork butt.  Cover the crockpot and cook for 4-5 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.  The meat is done when a fork inserted into the cut of meat goes in without resistance, and the meat begins to shred.

Chipotle and Citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Remove the pork butt from the crockpot and place it on a cutting board to shred.  And eat a few pieces while you’re at it.  The meat is so tender it will come off the bone by you just looking at it.  By the way, discard the bone.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

These are all the juices and veggies remaining in the crockpot.  These are liquid gold.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Turn the dial in your crockpot to “warm”.  With an immersion blender, blend all the onions, garlic and chipotle peppers, until a smooth sauce is achieved.  Taste for seasoning.  I didn’t have to make any adjustments.  There is so.much.flavor.here.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Return all the shredded pork back to the crockpot and mix with the sauce.  This will help keep the pork warm and juicy.

Chipotle and citrus carnitas - T's Tasty Bits

Serve your shredded pork with tortillas – as in tacos; with rice and beans, or top some greens with this pork and its sauce.  I have to tell you, these carnitas taste incredible the next day, as the meat has a chance to marinade overnight in all these flavors.  A bit of spice from the chipotle peppers offset with the sweetness of the brown sugar, all balanced by the citrus juices.  I am pretty sure this will be your favorite way of preparing pork from now on.  ¡Buen provecho!

Chipotle and Citrus Pulled Pork

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: ~20 servings

Cooking time depends on the temperature of the crockpot: cook for 4-5 hours on high, or for 8 hours on low. Five to six pounds of meat, accompanied with sides or in tacos is enough to feed a small army! I generously fed 20 people with this cut of meat.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs bone in pork butt or shoulder
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 whole yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3-4 medium oranges)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 large limes)
  • 1-7oz. can chipotles in adobo
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Kosher salt, pepper and cumin

Instructions

  1. Season the pork butt or shoulder on all sides generously with salt, pepper and cumin. Cut small slits all over the pork and rub the seasonings in the crevices.
  2. In a large 7qt crockpot, add the onions and garlic cloves to cover the bottom of the pot.
  3. Place the pork butt over the onions and juices.
  4. Add the citrus juices.
  5. Add the can of chipotle peppers, along with the brown sugar, the oregano, cinnamon and the water.
  6. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8 hours, until the pork is tender, and falls off the bone.
  7. Once cooked, lower the temperature to warm, and remove the pork shoulder whole, as best as possible, from the crockpot and place it on a large cutting board.
  8. Using an immersion blender, blend all the vegetables and the liquids that remain in the crockpot.
  9. Shred the pork, and return it to the crockpot. Stir to incorporate the shredded pork with the juices.
  10. Serve the pulled pork in sandwiches, tacos or with rice and beans.
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