Monday, December 21, 2015

Too Busy To Cook: Carnitas

Just like everyone else, my life is pretty hectic right now. What with working, trying to put lipstick on this pig of an old house we live in, and shopping for Christmas, there just isn't a whole lot of time for anything else, like cooking. Even people like me, who love to cook, sometimes just can't find the time or muster the energy to put anything interesting on the table this time of year.

Don't get me wrong, I am planning dining extravaganzas for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but those two meals have depleted my culinary energy. So what's a cook to do for the next couple of days? Kraft mac and cheese and hot pockets (what I feel like making) just won't cut it for my gourmands.

One of the ways I've been trying to make things a little interesting and easy on myself is to make some old favorites that I haven't served in awhile. I also make a lot of them so we can get a couple of meals out of each one to give me a break.

A BIG favorite around my house lately has been a pan of pork carnitas that I made the other day. I can't even tell you the last time I made this dish and for the life of me I don't know why it fell off the recipe rotation. This dish is inexpensive, super easy to put together and is great in either tacos or served with rice and beans.

So if you are like me and need a one pot meal that you can stretch, or just cooking for an army of visiting friends and relatives, this is a great option for you.


Literally translated, carnitas means "little meats" for obvious reasons. The flavorful little pork nuggets are great served plain with rice and beans or as the main attraction on a taco bar. I love my tacos with just a little cilantro and onion, but I put out all the trimmings like guacamole, cheese, sour cream and salsa for the more adventurous.

2-1/2 pounds pork sirloin roast, cut into 1 - 2" cubes
1 big, juicy lime, juiced and zested
1 big, juicy orange, juiced and zested
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken broth, water or beer
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well to coat. Transfer to a baking dish, cover and place in the preheated oven to cook for 1 - 1/2 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove cover and cook until liquid has reduced to about 1/2 its volume and is thick.

At this point, the carnitas are delicious as is, but if you want you can uncover the baking dish and keep cooking them for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally,  or until they begin to brown and form a crust on top. You can also fry them in a little oil or bacon drippings (my personal favorite) to crisp them up just a little on the outside. Either way you will have a wonderful, stress-free dinner or two.

I cooked mine in the oven for this recipe, but this is also a great recipe for the slow cooker. Just mix everything together and cook low and slow until tender.

Recipe serves 4

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