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A variation on pork carnitas using a slow cooker

Took about 7 hours, but well worth it.

In the recent past, I’ve posted about making Puerco Pibil in the crockpot. One of the drawbacks to doing this was how strong the spices were in the house. My eyes were watering for a while, as if I’d just chopped up a whole mess of onions. That’s good and that’s bad, as they say.

From that last experiment, I still had a large cube of pork butt in the freezer. Yesterday I decided to throw it into the crockpot, bone and all, with the following ingredients:


  • 1 tsp salt (can use more if so desired)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp achiote paste (for the red coloring and some extra flavoring)

Achiote paste can be hard to come by, unless you have a grocery store nearby that has a pretty good stock of Hispanic foods. In the previous Puerco Pibil posts, I made the achiote from scratch; this time, I went the easy route. It doesn’t carry the same flavor punch, but when you’re not in the mood to be in the kitchen all day, you have to sacrifice a little, right?

As in all things, one of the traits I love most about the slow cooker method is the fact that you don’t have to thaw out the meat beforehand. I threw the thing in totally frozen with the spices and a cup of chicken broth. 6-7 hours on low, and the meat will get tender enough to shred off the bone into the broth.

One of the trademarks for carnitas is having a bit of crunchiness. So, when you’re done, scoop out the meat using a strainer into a baking dish, shred it up, and pop in the oven using the broiler setting for about 6 minutes. Take the pan out (be careful, it’ll be really hot), stir up the meat again and pop back in for another 6 minutes.

Boo-yah… tasty, crunchy pork carnitas without having to use a deep fryer.

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