By Erin Walgamuth:
When I was growing up in the 70’s my mom bought a new fangled kitchen gadget called a Crock-Pot made by the Rival Company. She had just started back to work and thought it would be great to have dinner made when she got home in the evening. She had a yogurt maker too and created all kinds of delicious yogurt concoctions, so we figured “What the heck, dinner in a pot”? We were all amazed at the delicious food the little electric powered pot produced. When I got married my parents gave us our own Crock-Pot and I have been using one ever since.
We had some dear friends here for dinner last night. It was lovely to visit in a relaxed atmosphere, much appreciated after the wonderful, but slightly frenetic holidays. I made my version of crock pot carnitas which my family loves and is especially nice as it cooks on its own, without any help from me for 10 hours, so, when dinner time rolls around, all that is left to do is assemble your favorite toppings.
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This dish is inexpensive to buy, simple to make and feeds a family with leftovers to boot! I have made this dish many times and frozen the remaining carnitas for a future dinner. My husband really appreciates having the pork in the freezer when I am working, as it is simple to defrost and re-warm in the microwave.
As with many of my recipes, this one is open to interpretation too. Feel free to increase the spice and herb amounts. This recipe is medium spicy as my daughter doesn’t like too much spice (OK, she’s a wimp). We add extra heat to our tacos using salsa and chipotle chilies.
We wrap the carnitas in warm tortillas and top the meat with a variety of cheeses and vegetables. The pork is also wonderful served with eggs for breakfast. I served this meal with black beans and the Coconut Rice with Cilantro and Pistachios from Recipe of the Week 6-14-10.
I have a 5.5 quart Rival Crock Pot with a removable ceramic insert. I love this model as you can put the insert on the dinner table for serving. You can also put the insert in the refrigerator to use at a later time. If you have a smaller Crock Pot, you may need to use a smaller cut of pork.
I do not add any liquid to the pot as the pork will create its own juices.
Crock Pot Carnitas
Let pork sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before you start
Serves 8 with leftovers
You will need
5.5 quart Slow Cooker
12-13 “ skillet
Prep time approximately 10-15 minutes
Cook time 10 hours on low
6 pound Boneless Pork Shoulder
1 tablespoon olive oil
About 1 tablespoon of salt
About 1 tablespoon of coarsely ground black pepper
12 cloves of garlic, skins removed and thinly sliced
3 teaspoons of dried oregano
3 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
3 teaspoons of ground Pasilla chilies. You can find this in the Hispanic section of your market
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons of ground red chili powder
In a small bowl combine oregano, cumin, cloves, Pasilla chilies, cinnamon, red chili powder and mix well. Set aside.
Put olive oil in the skillet and turn heat to medium. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the pork shoulder. Brown the pork on all sides.
Put pork in your slow cooker. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the top and sides of the pork. Sprinkle sliced garlic over the top and around the sides of the pork.
Put lid on slow cooker and turn heat to low. Cook on low for 10 hours. Do not remove the lid during cooking time or you will dramatically lower the temperature inside the slow cooker. If we are not going to eat after 10 hours, I will put the slow cooker on the warm setting until time to serve.
Use a long-tined fork to break up the pork before serving. Use a slotted spoon to serve as there will be a lot of juices and nobody likes soggy tacos!
Erin Walgamuth  has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe  section.
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