Hey-oh it’s a Christmas miracle. Here I am posting my first recipe in lord knows how long but the wait is totally worth it because I have a crispy, crackling pork carnitas recipe for you today. The slow cooker makes it easy to produce juicy and succulent pulled pork and a quick sun tan under the oven broiler gives it that crunchy crust that’s impossible to resist. These carnitas are perfect in a doughy tortilla or fresh and light in a lettuce wrap. Or, nachos anyone? The possibilities are endless. All I know is that these carnitas are begging to be made and I have the perfect fuss-free recipe for you to try.
Now our carnitas are going to start off in the slow cooker in a very similar fashion to my Sweet and Smoky Coca-Cola Pulled Pork so be sure to check that recipe out for another great way to serve pulled pork and for some extra tips and tricks about cooking pork in the slow cooker. If you learn nothing else here, please, please, please do not try to slow cook a pork loin. You will end up with dry, tough meat and nobody wants that. Pork shoulder (aka pork butt, Boston Butt) has the fat marbling required for a juicy slow cooked meat.
While there is a slightly different flavor profile, the real difference between regular pulled pork and carnitas is the crispy (sometimes burnt depending on your taste buds) crust the pulled pork pieces get after a quick run under the oven broiler. Traditionally, these pieces are deep fried but I am generally terrified of frying things so we’re going to take the easy way out and use the broiler.
While this recipe slightly deviates from the traditional way to make carnitas, I think you’ll find this version super simple with crowd-pleasing results. If you don’t plan on eating all of this in one night simply store the leftover, un-broiled pulled pork in the fridge. It’s easy to pull out what you need and the broiler will take care of warming the meat and crisping the edges at the same time. Don’t worry if a few bits get broiled more than once. The extra crispy bits with slightly burned edges are the best pieces in my opinion.
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons dried cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4-5 lb pork shoulder, bone-in if possible
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 2 medium yellow onions, quartered
- 3 large oranges, juiced (about 1 cup juice)
- Zest from 1 large orange (about 1T)
- 2 limes, juiced (about 3T)
- Mix ingredients for dry rub in a small bowl and set aside.
- Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towels.
- Sprinkle dry rub generously over the entire pork shoulder and push rub into the meat to create a thick crust.
- Add garlic, onions, orange juice, orange zest, and lime juice to the slow cooker.
- Add pork shoulder to the slow cooker, fat side up.
- Cover and cook 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- Shred pork in the slow cooker using two forks, removing the bone if present.
- Allow shredded meat to cook in the juices for an additional 30 minutes.
- Season with additional salt and pepper if needed and to taste.
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Spread meat on a baking sheet in a single layer and broil to your desired level of crispness, about 5 minutes. For extra crust, broil 3-4 minutes, toss meat and redistribute into a single layer, and broil 3 minutes more.
- Serve as desired.
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