Everyone loves tacos. Especially kids. And moms of those kids. Any meal where I can squeeze in a protein, a whole grain and at least a couple of veggies without protest (salsa is a veggie people) is a winner in my book. In the summer we tend to do fish tacos on a pretty regular basis since I can throw some tilapia on the grill and serve everything at the picnic table. But during the colder months carnitas is our hands-down favorite. Its easy to make in the slow cooker and the inevitable leftovers are incredibly versatile (nachos, pork sandwiches, salads, more tacos).
In the past, Jon used to complain that pork tacos could be a bit greasy and flavorful. Not with this recipe. Something I originally developed for TheInspiredHome.com, this has become my go-to for super easy, incredibly flavorful weeknight tacos in the slow cooker. We actually have a “multi-cooker,” which is a slow cooker that also has a function for browning. Its super-convenient for this recipe, which requires cooking off the fat at the end to achieve the crispy texture of true carnitas. But you can easily achieve the same results by transferring from a traditional slow cooker to a dutch oven and finishing the dish on the stove.
For me the slow cooker part is important because I typically serve this on nights when we’re rushing home from evening swimming classes and the kids are absolutely starved and about ready to fall asleep in their dinner plates. I try to prep all the sides and toppings in the afternoon so that literally all I have to do is finish the pork, heat the tortillas and lay it all out.
“Just try it please” has become my regular battle cry/grumble at our dinner table, so to encourage experimentation and healthy choices, I lay everything out buffet-style. Topping choices usually include slaw and/or shredded romaine, quick pickled onions & jalapeños, salsa and chipotle Tabasco sauce, corn tortillas, Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro and lots of fresh avocado. With a side of seasoned black beans I know the kids are getting a variety of good stuff.
Taco Tuesday is right around the corner — get thee to the supermarket!
Slow Cooker Pork Tacos
Makes 8 – 10 servings
5 to 6 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast, large fat cap removed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 naval orange, quartered
10 cloves garlic, peeled
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon half and half
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 cups water
Slaw or shredded lettuce
Greek yogurt mixed with fresh lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro
Pickled onions & jalapeños
- Place first 8 ingredients into a slow cooker. Use your hands or a large wooden spoon to stir until onions, garlic, oregano and salt are evenly distributed. Pour vegetable oil and water over the meat. Secure lid on the slow-cooker and set the unit to the “Low” setting for 6 to 8 hours.
- After 6 hours, remove lid from slow-cooker and use a fork to check meat for tenderness. Meat should shred easily with a fork. Remove orange segments and bay leaves and discard. If slow cooker has a “Brown” setting, switch it on or transfer meat and juices to a large Dutch oven and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Do not replace lid.
- Allow meat to continue cooking until all the moisture evaporates (this may take up to 40 minutes) and the meat begins to brown. Stir occasionally to prevent meat from burning on the bottom.
- When the meat reaches desired crispness, add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm with tortillas and your choice of toppings.