Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

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There are certain important, iconic historic events that when they happen, you’ll always remember exactly where you were.

I was very young both times around, but I remember where I was when President Bill Clinton was elected. Both times in 1992, and in 1996: my grandparent’s living room, watching TV with my grandpa.

Strangely enough, I remember where I was the day that O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murder of his wife: again, my grandparents living room watching the verdict unfold on Geraldo Rivera.

I remember where I was on December 31st/January 1st, 1999 when everyone was holding their breath, thinking the world was going to end in the year 2000. I was at my other grandmother’s house in Detroit with my Dad and sisters and we all were laughing about it.

I remember where I was on September 11th, 2001; my 7th grade English class. My teacher had left in the middle of class for a few minutes, then come back into the room and without saying a word to us, just turned on the TV and switched to CNN. I still remember that first image I saw of the smoke billowing out from the World Trade Center, and not fully realizing what it was I was really seeing.

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I remember where I was when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005; I was visiting my Aunt in Atlanta and was horrified at the images and video footage the news was reporting, not just from the hurricane itself, but also from the aftermath. The first few weeks when I got back to high school, several of the student organizations I was apart of were collecting food, toiletries and clothe donations to send down there to help out.

I remember where I was when President Barack Obama was first elected; in 2008 me and Jas were in our dorm room, watching the election results on our tv through tears of joy and near disbelief. To date, that night is one of the best nights I’ve ever had in my life. (I remember where I was the night of his re-election in 2012 too, but that night in 2008 will always and forever be particularly special to me)

I remember where I was when I found out that Michael Jackson died in 2009. I was in the kitchen cooking and my Mom came in and told me that the story was trending on the internet. I refused to believe it for a really long time. When it finally was confirmed as true, I felt an unexpected sadness and depression that lingered with me for a few days.

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Right up there with all those super duper important, iconic historical events I’ve lived to see, I’m gonna go ahead and add another to that list.

I’ll always remember where I was the day that I first made pork carnitas. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. I was in the kitchen, while my mom and sister Ashley were watching the tv show The Blacklist in the living room.

Yep. This recipe is that important and life-changing to me.

You have to understand, I’ve never done this before. I didn’t even really know what I was doing, I just knew that carnitas was something I’d always wanted to make for myself.

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So when my grocery store finally put their pork butt (shoulder)on sale, I just went out and bought one of those bad boys, along with some basic ingredients that I knew were traditionally used in making carnitas.

The first good sign was the smell coming out of my slow cooker when I woke up on Sunday morning after letting the shoulder do it’s thing overnight. It was friggin glorious, people. I went in the kitchen and pressed my face up against the glass lid like a kid looking through the glass of a candy store, trying to see what ind of magic was going on in that crockpot that smelled so delicious. The steam and heat had created too many bubbles for me to see unfortunately, so I had to exercise an INCREDIBLE amount of self-restraint from yanking off the lid and let it keep cooking for another few hours. I wasn’t taking any chances. I wanted to make sure I had that type of pork that’s been cooked to low and slow perfection. It needed to practically melt off the bone with little to no force or resistance.

Kinda like the way I get after watching “The Avengers” and seeing Chris Hemsworth’s arms and Chris Evans work a punching bag.

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Good things come to those who wait. I found that out when I finally couldn’t take it anymore and lifted my crockpot lid. The steam from the pork hit me in the face. It was like, the best kiss I ever had

Okay, maybe not the best kiss I ever had. But pretty darn close. I wanted to break out in Snoopy dances when I took a fork and pierced the meat. I didn’t even have to pull, guys. I just touched it. And it FELL off the bone. Fell, I tell you. If I thought it couldn’t get any better, I was wrong. Because a few minutes underneath the broiler elevates these carnitas from mere mortal (albeit delicious) viddles, to the Food of the Gods.

Moist, fork-tender pork that literally melts in your mouth. A hint of crusty caramelization. This is living.

Something this simple to make really shouldn’t taste this good. It just shouldn’t. It almost feels like I’m cheating. Life’s not a fairy tale like that, am I right?!

So why did this dish turn out SO GOOOOOOOOD?!

I’m going to the Fiesta Friday #43, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by  Tracy @Scratch It and Stephanie @The Cozy Cook. I’ll also be bringing these carnitas. See you there…

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Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Recipe by Jessica@Cooking Is My Sport

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Ingredients

  • 4-6 lbs. pork shoulder, slightly trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tbsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 oranges, sliced in half
  • 1 lime, sliced in half

Directions

1. Combine garlic salt, chili powder, dried oregano, dried basil, cumin, ground coriander, brown sugar, and sweet paprika.

2. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the pork. Place pork in the bottom of a slow cooker (minimum of 6 quarts)*

3. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and limes over the pork. Place rinds pulp side down in slow cooker over the meat.

4. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or until pork is tender and falling off the bone. Use a fork to pull away from bone and discard it.

5. Preheat oven broiler. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and arrange pork in a single layer. Place underneath broiler until tips of pork are browned and slightly crisp, about 3-5 minutes. (Don’t walk away from it. Keep an eye on meat to make sure it doesn’t burn or become overly browned).

6. Serve finished pork in corn/flour tortillas, or over rice.

*I had to use 2 slow cookers too cook a 6lb. pork shoulder that I ended up cutting in half, so keep that in mind when buying your meat.

Champurrado-Mexican Hot Chocolate

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I absolutely love the movie “Chocolat” starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

I’ll be honest, when I first watched it years ago, it was for one reason and one reason only: so I could moon over the physical perfection that is the The Johnny. (That’s what we call him in my house.) However, once we actually finished it, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie itself. It had some of my favorite actors in it (Alfred Molina, Judi Dench, Juliette Binoche), and the plot itself was very creative; a woman and her daughter travel from country to country opening chocolate shops and selling sweets with healing/magical powers to fix the lives of the people that buy them. It’s one of those cute, heartwarming, happy ending films to watch on sad rainy days, or on quiet Friday nights on your lonesome when you have nothing to do.

Not that I’m speaking from my own experience or anything.

I still watch Chocolat on a pretty regular basis, but nowadays, I find my attention caught by more than just the good plot and The Johnny’s smoldering gaze ( which God knows is enough of an incentive all on its own).

I also love watching it for the food. But you guys knew that about me by now, I’m sure.

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Kudos have got to go the director of photography of this movie for filling it with so many gratuitous shots of rich, decadent chocolate. Word of warning: don’t sit down and watch this if you’re hungry and without any access to food. By the time it’s over you WILL be hangry (yes hangry: hungry AND angry. A lethal combination for me).

Juliette Binoche’s character in the movie descends from the Ancient Aztecs, who believed that the cacao bean held magical powers. As such, they would grind it up  and melt it down into a thick, rich drink that became hot chocolate. Aztec hot chocolate is shown throughout the movie to have a very strong effect on everyone who comes to the chocolate shop to try it. They take one sip and this mysterious music starts playing in the background- as if all their dreams were coming true from just drinking this stuff. Overly dramatic? Oh yeah. Justified? I wasn’t sure…until now.

Don’t quote me on it, but I think that today’s Aztec Hot Chocolate has more or less trickled down into what we now know as Champurrado, or Mexican Hot Chocolate. I’d always wanted to try it, and recently all the stars came into alignment in my pantry (i.e., I finally had all the ingredients to make me quit procrastinating).

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Before I get into how Champurrado tastes, let me be clear about one thing: this is NOT what you would typically think of as ‘Americanized’ hot cocoa. For one, the masa harina makes this drink thick, almost to the point of a gravy consistency. Second, the masa gives it a slight corn-y aftertaste and although that may not sound appetizing, for some reason it just really works. Please, for the love of God, don’t try to use any substitutes for the Mexican chocolate. This recipe just doesn’t count at all if you do. You can’t beat that dark, rich flavor that the Mexican chocolate disks give to it. The one thing I would give you a free pass on would be the piloncillo because for a while, I didn’t even know what that stuff was.My mom ‘just happened’ to bring some home one day and since I didn’t know what the heck else to use it for, I decided to use it for my Champurrado. It’s a funny looking cone of solid sugar that you break down and crumble- I softened mine in the microwave for a few second increments.But brown sugar will also work fine.

Once again, this is not American cocoa. Having said that, I have to let you all know that this Champurrado is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. It’s rich, smooth and creamy; slightly bitter from the chocolate, immediately sweet from the sugar, and the masa harina finally providing a delicate balance between the two in the aftertaste. I’m never going back to my old, misguided Swiss Miss ways, you guys. I’ve seen the light now.

If that doesn’t sell you on this drink, then let this do it’s job:

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Credit to giphy.com

The Johnny.

Drinking Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Those eyes. Sigh.

….Excuse me. I need a minute to myself now.

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Champurrado-Mexican Hot Chocolate

Recipe Courtesy of GOYA®.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Instant Corn Masa
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Brown Sugar Cane (Piloncillo), chopped, or 8 oz. brown sugar
  • 2 disks (3 oz. each) Mexican chocolate, like Abuelita, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions

1. Add corn masa to large, heavy sauce pot. Using whisk, slowly add 4 cups water, whisking constantly until smooth and combined. Place saucepot over medium-high heat; bring corn masa mixture to a boil.

2. Add milk, sugar cane, chocolate and cinnamon to pot. Bring milk mixture to boil, whisking constantly, until chocolate is melted and sugar cane is dissolved, 5-7 minutes more.

3. Remove pot from heat. Divide champurrado evenly among serving mugs.