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Slow Cooker Carnitas with Homemade Tortillas
I have a confession. I’m a bit of a taco snob. Having grown up in parts of California where Mexican food was just about as good (and authentic) as it is in Mexico, I developed a taco palate that prevents me from enjoying just any taco thrown my way. The filling needs to smack me in the face with flavor. The garnishes need to enhance, not detract, from the filling. And the tortilla….. oh man, if you have the time to make them from scratch, you realllllly need to. Unfortunately once you do, you will NEVER buy store bought again. And get this: tortillas are INSANELY easy to make!!! Its a win-win in my opinion.
So what does this taco snob claim is the best? I honestly cant say. There are too many amazing combos that when slapped in the middle of a homemade tortilla are quite sublime. However, pork. Pork is always a good start to anything, really, but tacos specifically. And even though the authentic way of making delicious carnitas goes against my current philosophy of family cooking (“healthy and easy”), there are short cuts that still deliver one amazing carnitas recipe.
Notes: Here are some items to help with this recipe!
Carnitas with Pineapple-Cilantro Sauce and Homemade Tortillas
This flavor-packed pork carnitas recipe is the perfect meal for a busy family! Paired with pickled shallots, pineapple-cilantro sauce, and the easiest homemade tortillas, this dish is sure to please everyone at the dinner table!
For the carnitas, coat the pork shoulder chunks with the spices. Let sit for 1 hour to marinate. Heat a skillet on high and add 2 tbsp oil. Add a portion of the pork shoulder, making sure to work in small batches so the pan isn't crowded. Brown all sides of the pork before removing from heat and placing in slow cooker. Continue to brown pork in batches.
Once pork is cooked (make sure to keep the "messy" build up on the bottom of the pan!! That is the delicious fond that will add so much depth to your dish!), add another 1-2 tbsp oil, then add in the onions and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Carefully (it'll splatter a bit) add 1/2 cup of water to the pan to deglaze. Pour onion/garlic/deglazed mix to slow cooker with pork. Add in the juice from the oranges and limes. Cover and cook pork on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours. Remove from cooker, shred, and set aside until serving.
Alternatively: you can skip cutting the pork into chunks and just season and sear the whole pork shoulder before placing in the slow cooker. I chose to cut my pork shoulder because I love the flavor the seared edges give to the dish.
Combine the apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over sliced shallots. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Add all ingredients to blender and combine until smooth.
Using a wooden spoon, mix masa harina, salt, and 1 cup hot water in a large mixing bowl. Cover it bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Add 2 more tablespoons of cool water (one at a time) until the dough reaches an ideal texture (not dry but not to wet either) .
Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces for 6-inch corn tortillas. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel.
Cut each sides of a Ziploc bag to make it a large rectangular piece. If using a tortilla press, lay it on the tortilla press, making sure it covers both the upper and bottom parts of the press. Roll dough (placed between ziploc) with rolling pin if not using a press.
Gently peel back the top layer of the bag, and transfer it to your hand. Place it on a baking sheet and cover it with a kitchen towel. Continue with the rest.
Heat a cast iron skillet in medium heat for 5 minutes (trust me, it needs to be hot!).
When you are ready to bake, place a tortilla on the skillet and let it cook for 15 seconds. Flip and let it cook for another 30-45 seconds or until it is lightly browned.
Once tortillas are cooked, transfer them to a basket cloth lined with a kitchen towel. Allow them to continue cooking with the steam (from their own heat) inside the basket for at least 10 more minutes before serving.
To serve, heat skillet on high and add 3tbsp oil. Add shredded pork to pan and fry until edges crisp. Serve on warm tortilla with sauce, drained pickled shallots, cotija cheese, and cilantro leaves.