I have been experimenting with a lot of new foods lately.
First, because I finally found a slow cooker here; they aren’t exactly commonplace here in Spain.
Second, because I am looking for new foods that my son will like to eat.
Last, because it’s fun.
One of my new favorites is carnitas. I had already been slow roasting pork shoulder, mostly with barbecue sauce, because my husband preferred it that way. I have been trying to cut out processed foods, though, and not only does barbecue sauce have a lot of sugar in it, but I get sick of it really quickly.The meat by himself bores him. Looking to change things up made me think of years back when he worked with some a family from Mexico at a Mexican restaurant in the US. We used to get together with them outside of work, and they, at home, would make a slow roasted pork and serve it in homemade tortillas; I loved it.
Online I happened to come across different recipes of something similar, called carnitas, but everybody seemed to make them in a different way. I have since been experimenting, and think I have finally found my favorite way of making carnitas in the crock pot.
The first time I tried making crock pot carnitas, I slow cooked the pork shoulder with some onions and different spices. Once they were tender, I shredded the pork into relatively big pieces, and re-fried the meat in some lard right before serving it. Most carnitas recipes did some variation of that process. The problem was that I found the meat tasty, but slightly dry and fatty at the same time.
After trying out several ways of doing things, in the end, I decided I preferred just slow cooking the pork with a little salt, sometimes with a few spices like cumin and cayenne, and then shredding it right before serving it without refrying it. Lately, I rarely add spices nor onions either, but you definitely can play around with that and find the combination that you like best. Cumin, garlic and cayenne pepper are all great additions to the dish.
As for the tortillas, we decided after trying the pork with store bought tortillas, that we preferred the combination of pork with corn tortillas rather than flour ones; carnitas are usually served that way. Having (crazily) brought a (heavy) tortilla press with me here to Spain, I had been meaning to try making some tortillas of my own. So I bought some masa harina and had at it.
For some reason I thought the masa harina I was using was GMO free. Unfortunately, I found out it’s not, and it is impossible to find a non-GMO version here in Spain. In the US, I have read that this one is GMO free. So, since then I have been making my homemade corn tortillas with an organic corn flour. They aren’t as easy to manipulate as the ones made with masa harina, but it isn’t impossible.
|My tortilla press lined with parchment paper|
In any case, with the masa harina, they advise on the package to mix it with a certain amount of water. Once the water is absorbed, you’re supposed to roll the mix into balls which you press into a tortilla shape in your tortilla press. You then fry them in a skillet, preferably a cast iron skillet if possible. I now do the same thing with the organic corn flour. To keep them from breaking now, I peel off one layer of the paper, and place the tortilla on my skillet with the other layer of paper still attached. As the tortilla starts to cook, I can easily peel off the top layer of paper, without it breaking, right before flipping it.
Serving is simple. Put some shredded pork onto one of the tortillas, and add whatever condiments and toppings you prefer. Cilantro is traditional, but neither my husband nor I are huge fans of cilantro so we don’t usually add it. Squirting some lime juice over top of the meat is also good. I like to just add lettuce, but my husband adds salsa and diced tomatoes. My son does a pretty good job of holding the wrapped up tortillas and eating them himself! It’s wonderful finding something that everybody in the house eats well.
They are easy and tasty!
Since the crock pot does all of the work of making the pork taste amazing, you have extra time to be making the homemade tortillas which makes it all worthwhile.
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