We have here in El Paso an absolutely marvelous local restaurant chain called Carnitas Queretaro, which oddly enough specializes in carnitas. And we do love our carnitas, or “little meats” as that translates. Traditionally this is done with chunks of fatty pork deep fried, but today I’m going to present a delicious and hopefully healthier alternative that I think comes out even better. Here’s what you’ll need:
- One large Boston Butt (pork shoulder) cut in half. It’s okay to work the knife around the bone and leave it in, or you can go boneless.
- Chipotle powder. Lots of it. I get mine, as well as all my other chile powders, from El Potrero Trading Post in Chimayo, New Mexico. Well worth the expense, believe me.
- Salt. Lots of it.
- Freshly ground black pepper. Lots of it.
Season the pork liberally with the chipotle, salt, and black pepper.
Place each half onto a generous amount of plastic wrap.
Tightly wrap each half and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning start heating a cast iron skillet while you retrieve the pork from the refrigerator and unwrap them. Get that skillet very, very hot, but not “blackening” hot. Now place the halves into the skillet, initially fat side down to render out some of the fat and to “grease” the skillet.
Once the fat side is darkly browned start rotating the halves to sear the remaining sides.
That step should result in your pork looking like this:
Place the halves into your slow cooker. Just the pork, nothing else. Do not add any liquid. You’ll see why later.
Cover the slow cooker (I do this to get the crockery up to temperature), turn it on high for an hour, then back off to low for an additional six to seven hours.
Later that afternoon you’ll find out why adding liquid wasn’t necessary when you open up the lid. By the way, don’t throw out that liquid. De-fat and save it for something else, like perhaps stock for posolé or menudo.
Remove the pork from the slow cooker and allow it to cool enough to cut, shred, and remove excess fat by hand.
After this step here’s what you should have on hand:
Now heat up again that cast iron skillet. Once it’s searing hot lightly spray it with cooking oil and add one layer of the meat.
Crisp one side, then flip and crisp the other. Remove and continue with additional layers of meat one layer at a time.
Now serve with fresh corn tortillas and your favorite sides. I recommend guacamole, red sauce or salsa, and my world-famous jalapeño “pesto” dip.
And what would one of my recipe blogs be without a wine selection? If you go with spicy accompaniments then a slightly sweet white or rosé suggests itself. Think along the lines of a Riesling, Viognier, or Gewürztraminer for white; a white zinfandel or perhaps a Spanish rosado for a blush pairing.