Slow Cooker Citrus Habanero Carnitas Tacos
I have a confession. I just pulled out my slow-cooker for the first time in 4 years. Truth is, I completely forgot about the thing. Crazy, since I'm often pinning all these slow-cooker recipes to my various food boards on Pinterest. Okay, I have another confession, and I beg of you...please don't hate me. Here it goes...I don't really care for ANY of the "stay-at-home mom/house wife" cooks on TV. There's just something about their often uninspired and outdated recipes, the way they talk in the simplest of culinary language, and how they're often asking their young kids for feedback on the taco casserole they just whipped up.
It's just not my thing. But...to each his (or her) own.
I do want kids one day soon. I just might be a stay-at-home mom who loves to cook for her family one day, too. And I promise, I don't think I'm better than these woman. Because let's face it, I'm not on TV. They are.
But....generally speaking, I do like more sophisticated recipes. Recipes that don't involve throwing some meat and spices in a slow cooker and wiping my hands clean for the day.
Until...I realized one thing that the slow cooker would so beautifully create.
Carnitas. Oh yes, the fall-apart pork that tastes amazing on its own and even better stuffed into a corn tortilla. Carnitas are without question one of my favorite Mexican meats. The hints of citrus, the crusty exterior of melt-in-your-mouth, succulent meat. It's just divine.
So I suppose I'll be pulling out that ole slow cooker more often now. Because while those carnitas tacos I made last week may not have been my most sophisticated recipe, they were just about as memorable as any of my all-time favorite Mexican dishes.
Slow Cooker Citrus Habanero Carnitas Tacos With Pickled Cabbage, Queso Fresco, and Guacamole
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 red onion chopped
2 oranges, cut in half
1 lime, cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons cumin
1 habanero pepper, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Queso Fresco, crumbled
1 cup guacamole (my recipe here)
Organic soft corn tortillas (shells)
For the Pickled Cabbage:
2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup Rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1) Rinse and pat dry the pork with paper towels. Thoroughly salt and pepper and all sides.
2) Make a wet rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil and cumin. Rub into meat.
3) Place the pork in a slow cooker along with the chopped onion, garlic, and habanero pepper. Then, squeeze the juice from the oranges and the lime on top. Put the orange and lime halves in the cooker with the meat.
4) Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. You can also cook on high for 4-5 hours.
5) When the meat has another hour to cook, prepare the pickled cabbage. Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Then, in a small pot, combine the water, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil. Pour over the cabbage and let sit, stirring occasionally.
6) When the meat is just about ready, prepare the guacamole. (Recipe here)
7) When the meat is fork tender, remove from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Let cool for 5 minutes. Then, with two forks, pull all of the meat until it's in large, bite-size strands.
8) In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil to high heat. Working in batches, place the carnitas in the pan, pressing down on the meat, until it's crispy. Place on serving plate.
9) Now, in that same pan, heat your tortillas. Cook for 10-20 seconds on each side and then plate.
10) Assemble the tacos. Place 1-2 tablespoons cabbage on a tortilla, then the meat, then the guacamole, and then a sprinkling of cheese. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.