Wow, was this so much easier than I expected.  I love pork carnitas, but always assumed it was something too difficult and time-consuming to make at home, and would only have the pleasure when I went out to a Mexican restaurant and rolled the dice on the cook’s skill… not always a winning gamble.  But, honestly, the hardest part of this recipe was trimming the pork.  Since you throw everything in your slow-cooker, this recipe is pretty foolproof; toss in your ingredients and eight hours later you’ve got a fragrant, classic Mexican dish that never misses.

The pork itself will make approximately six 475-calorie servings and is perfect served with warm tortillas, with Southwest-style brown rice, or simply in a bowl, with or without chips and the tomatillo salsa on the side.  The tomatillo salsa recipe makes about four cups and the entire batch is about 350 calories

This week’s recipe is actually two-for-one.  The pork is cooked in a bright, fresh tomatillo salsa that can be made on its own for canning, snacking, or other recipes.  And that’s where we’ll start.

Here’s what you’ll need for the salsa:

  • 2 lbs. tomatillos
  • 1/2 medium white onion, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 3/4 c. fresh cilantro
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 jalapeno, Anaheim, or serrano chile(s), depending on your preferred level of spice.

First, turn your broiler on high, then peel the tomatillos from their husks and rinse with warm water.  Cut them in half and place them cut-side down on a parchment or foil-lined baking pan.  You’ll want something with sides as the tomatillos will release water as they bake.  Do the same with your chile(s).  Broil them until the skins begin to blister and get black and speckled, about 5-10 minutes).

Once the tomatillos and chilies are properly roasted, place them in a blender with the onion, lime juice, and cilantro.  Blend on high for about a minute.  That’s it.  Your salsa is finished.  You’ll need half of it for your carnitas…

Here’s what you’ll need for the pork carnitas:

  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder/butt roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 3-4 inch chunks
  • 3 t. dried oregano
  • 2 t. black pepper
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 3 whole garlic cloves
  • 1/2 recipe tomatillo salsa
  • Avocado for topping (optional)
  • Queso fresco for topping (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)

First, mix your spices together in a small bowl or plastic bag.  Once you’ve trimmed your pork of fat, and cut it into fist-sized chunks, rub it with the spice mixture and set into the bottom of the slow-cooker.  Place the onion quarters and garlic cloves evenly over top of the pork and cover the whole thing with the tomatillo salsa.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

When the cooking is done, discard the onion chunks and pull out the pork with a slotted spoon or tongs.  Transfer the pork to a bowl or serving dish and shred with a fork… If you even need to try that hard.  I gave my chunks a gentle squish with my tongs and the suckers just fell apart.  I suggest spooning about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid over the shredded pork.

Serve in corn tortillas, topped with queso fresco, avocado, and a squeeze of lime as pictured above, or however your little taste buds desire.

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