Yes, I cook for a living, or part of a living and I love it. Yet, I have never shied away from a dish that calls for little or no work except tossing things in a pot and pushing ON. Or a cake that has as part of its name “dump”. Let’s face it, even when you love to cook, you don’t always want to cook. The crock-pot was pretty much invented on this principle. And yes, I’m going to still call it that even though crock-pot is actually a brand and the foodist “slow cooker” is now the term in vogue. Crock was the first one I had, and all its brethren since go by that even if crock is no where on it. I still xerox things and grab kleenex too.
Anyway, back to my affection for culinary sloth. I’m not talking about overly processed just add water and an egg, though there are times when that can be wonderful in a childhood comfort food add milk and butter to potato flakes kind of way. I was once given a recipe for huckleberries that involved a stick of butter and a box mix, and it was pretty awesome. What I mean when I say culinary sloth is adding a combination of good stuff to the gaping maw of the pot, tossing a bit, turning on low and allowing everything to get to know each other really well, say over 6 hours. Think of it as courting, not speed dating.
This time of year I look for the easy route to delicious a lot. Working two jobs and trying to grow a business during the busy ’tis the season’ season means the crock-pot is my culinary weapon on choice. And why not? Slow cooking pretty much guarantees yummy, economical fare, and as a bonus you can skip the scented candles to make your house smell homey. But if all of that isn’t convincing you, here’s another reason. Tacos. Awesome flavor packed pork tacos. Specifically, Crock-Pot Carnitas. The recipe is a combo of a few I’ve seen, plus a little of this and a little of that. As far as technique, chuck everything into the pot, hit low, 6 hours, ON. After piggy and all has had their time in the hot tub, shred, add your taco containment method and accessories of choice. Lazy never tasted so good!
Makes about 6-7 cups
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of any larger pieces of fat and cut into approximately 2″ cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cinnamon stick (about 2″)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican oregano if you have it)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
- 3-4 strips of orange zest (remove any white pith)
Toss all of the ingredients together in the crock-pot. Cook on low for 6 hours. After 6 hours, take out a piece of the meat to test for doneness. If it shreds easily, it’s done! Remove the meat to a large bowl and shred. At this point if you want to make tacos right away, take some of the shredded pork and brown in a sauté pan so you get some crispy bits. You won’t need to add any oil. The pork has enough fat in it. I also like to chop up any onions that haven’t melted, and drizzle a little of the juices over the pork after it’s been fried.
Serve along with a stack of corn tortillas, shredded cabbage, salsa of your choice, limes or wedges of clementines.
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