My family and I regularly enjoy the meals I prepare at home, primarily highlighted by fresh and high-quality ingredients from the local farms to our table.
On occasion, when trying something I don’t often fix, the results are even better than anticipated. This week was one of those occurrences when cooking a delicious pork shoulder in the slow cooker.
The dish is rubbed with olive oil, seasoned salt, dried oregano, brown sugar and ground cumin, then surrounded by fresh blood orange juice, chopped green onion and jalapeño peppers.
The end goal was a hearty pile of shredded pork carnitas. It’s finished off in the pan until crispy, with flavorful liquid from the juices in the slow cooker.
The flavor was incredible.
Fresh citrus is something I tend to use daily, and this time of year there are dozens of varieties from which to choose. From lemons and limes to grapefruit and mandarins, the range of sweet, sour and tangy fruit is thriving this time of year.
The blood oranges I incorporated into this week’s carnitas recipe deliver a wonderful balance of sweet and tangy notes. While you may initially think that there will be an awkward orange flavor in the final product, you will be presently surprised with its subtle underlying presence.
Once done, carnitas can be used to fill tacos, tortas, quesadillas and burritos, or served alongside scrambled eggs or inside of an omelet. Use carnitas to top a salad, or serve them on a plate with beans, shredded cabbage, avocado and salsa. Make sure not to skip the final step of browning the meat off in the pan, adding a layer of texture and flavor to the meat you won’t want to miss.
Blood Orange Carnitas
3-4-pound pork shoulder (also referred to as pork butt). Available from a number of local ranchers at all of our weekly Santa Barbara Certified Farmers’ Markets.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup blood orange
1 large bunch green onion, ends trimmed, diced small (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, mined
1 large jalapeño pepper, diced (remove seeds and membrane to reduce heat)
I first trimmed much of the thick fat cap off the pork. You can also leave it on if desired and then spoon out fat once complete. (You will still want some of the fat present.)
Rub olive oil over the pork should. In a small bowl, combine seasoned salt, brown sugar, dried oregano and ground cumin and mix. Then massage the mixture over all sides of the pork. Place in a slow cooker and add remaining ingredients.
Cover and cook about 7 hours on high, 10 hours on low. Once done, the pork will be very tender and easy to shred.
In a hot pan, add a little oil and brown shredded pork. This will likely need to be done in a few batches. While it is browning, regularly add some of the liquid from the slow cooker to the meat, adding a nice layer of flavor and moisture. I do not strain out the onion and garlic, but you can if you like. Serve hot.
Yield: Serves 8.