A Southern Grace: better than coal?

July 30, 2014

better than coal?


Some people think pig tails are just a hair style for little girls. I guess those people weren't raised in a farming family with a grandpa with a peculiar sense of humor.

I was. My grandpa raised hogs for several years and I distinctly remember that one or two of my Christmas presents from him were pig tails, much to his delight and my chagrin. I think he enjoyed giving them to me more than my brothers and cousins because I was (and still am) by far the most squeamish.

So, pigs. I know folks who like to eat everything but the oink, but that's not for me. I do, however, really love pulled pork or a nice, moist pork loin. My boyfriend requested some carnitas after having some at our favorite taco place, so once again, I turned to the internets to create my recipe.

What we ended up eating was SO flavorful. You could detect orange and cumin and jalapeno first, and you can't fool your nose--cinnamon (my addition, obviously) was also present in all its aromatic glory. Be sure you trim the majority of the fat off of your pork shoulder--while it does add flavor and richness, it can also overwhelm the meat pretty easily and make leftovers really unappetizing.

If you cook your pork in your crockpot long enough, it's no exaggeration to say that it just falls apart. We ate our carnitas as taco filling with pineapple salsa, cilantro, and cotija cheese and enjoyed it immensely. Fortunately for the two of us, a 2-pound hunk of pork ended up being about 4 or 5 delicious meals.

Grandpa, trust me on this one--juicy, seasoned shoulder of pork is just so much more appetizing than pig tails.

Crockpot Carnitas
Serves 8-10
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (or 2-1/2 pounds bone-in), trimmed of large pieces of fat (and tails)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh garlic, if you prefer)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, chopped (I used pickled jalapenos and they were wonderful)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
Rinse and dry the pork shoulder, then apply salt and pepper liberally.
Mix the oregano, cumin, garlic powder, and cinnamon and rub it all over the pork.
Place the pork in a slow cooker and top with the onion and jalapeno.
Add the chicken broth and orange juice to the pot, then cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high 4 hours.
Once the meat is tender, remove from slow cooker and let cool slightly before pulling apart with a fork.
Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat--you don't want to waste that stuff!
Serve on tortillas with pineapple salsa, cilantro, and cotija cheese, or any other toppings you love!


Caroline Taylor said...

I have to agree with you (sorry to your Grandpa) but this does look much more appetising than pigs tails!

mamster said...

If you refrigerate the broth, it is easy to remove the fat that congeals on top and then use as sauce or stock.

~~louise~~ said...

It's a toss up for me Grace, Pig Tails or Banana Curls. My mother use to put my hair in Banana Curls and I remember adults always wanting to play with them. It didn't make me happy!

Love the ingredients and ease of this dish. The Jalepenos are a tasty addition! Thanks for sharing, Grace...

Alicia Foodycat said...

Much nicer than a pigtail! Although, if you had dogs I bet they'd like a nice fresh pigtail for Christmas.

Pam said...

I love carnitas... these look and sound spectacular.

I would have hated getting pig tails when I was a kid - or even now. YUCK.

Marjie said...

I'm always squeamish. Fortunately, neither of my grandpas was a pig farmer, or I'd probably have been gifted pig tails, too. This looks like a good meal; I love pork cooked until it falls apart!

Emily said...

I love this. Such a good idea! I love using my crock pot for meat. I'll have to make this for Eric and myself sometime.

Angie's Recipes said...

I don't eat much pork, but my husband does. This would be a great meal for him.

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

After having a local farmer raise a pig for us, I have a freezer full of pork. I am so looking forward to try this recipe!!
PS.Stopping by from my "new" blog... Kris AKA Sugar Cookies to Peterbilts

lisa is cooking said...

I would be equally squeamish about a gift of pig tails! But, these are great looking carnitas. The pineapple salsa sounds great with the tacos.

Lisa said...

I bet the combination of cumin, cinnamon, and jalapeno make a nice flavor.

Juliana said...

You are always funny Grace...
I love carnitas, but never attempted to make it at home...thanks for the recipe...it sure looks delicious!
Have a great weekend :D

Lisa-Marie said...

I hadn't heard of carnitas before. I will definitely be trying them now!

Carolyn Jung said...

I actually had this great grilled pig's tail at a restaurant in Los Angeles a year or so ago. Fatty, porky goodness! ;)

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I'm definitely one of those people who will eat pig tails (in fact I quite like them) but I also would not say no to carnitas!

Joanne said...

No pig tails for me either, thanks! Sounds like your carnitas are full of awesome flavor!

Katerina said...

Well, if that wasn;t the most unusual present, I don't know what is haha! Although I would pass the pig's tail, I love pork and these carnitas are right up my alley!

Carolyn Jung said...

My husband is a fanatic for pulled pork. Never done it in a crockpot, though. He uses a smoker. And when he opens the lid, the smell is just porky heaven. ;)

Jessica @ Barefoot by the Sea said...

Love easy meals in the crockpot - even better when they don't look like they are easy. Defintely going to try this for Labor Day!