When I bought the pork shoulder for my Irish Feast recipe for FEAST Magazine, I actually bought three. Three pork shoulders at 4 pounds a piece is a lot of pork in my little freezer. However, I bought three because I was so sure I would screw up the first one. Isn’t that sad? I’ve endured my own kitchen catastrophes in the last few years and at least kind of knew what I was doing this tiem around, but I was certain I’d fail at least once.
Well, I didn’t, and it turned into the perfect St. Paddy’s Day meal. That said, I still had two more pork shoulders in the freezer, begging to be played with. Matt had been dropping hints for carnitas for weeks, and when the blood oranges on my countertop caught my eye, I knew I had a masterful combination.
I made carnitas once before – no blog post as the crispy pork was eaten faster than I could retrieve my camera. Also, meat is difficult to photograph so I would have had to sent the scene and make it pretty and just…ugh. This time, blood oranges were my inspiration for a pretty pork meal, so much so that I even made my own tortilla bowls (easier than you’d think!).
Blood Orange Pork Carnitas
Keywords: slow-cooker saute entree Cinco de Mayo Mexican Southwest winter fall spring
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 1 3-4 lb bone-in pork shoulder, trimmed
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp course salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1-2 dried chile peppers
- 3 blood oranges, juiced, pulp reserved (about 3/4 cup juice)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Warm tortillas, for serving
- Toppings of your choice: cabbage, radishes, queso fresco, lime juice, avocado, salsa, sour cream
For Tortilla Bowls
- Flour tortillas
- Nonstick spray or olive oil
- Mason jars
Once the pork shoulder is trimmed of (most of, not all) fat, rub with oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Put pork, onion, garlic, dried peppers, and the juice and pulp from three blood oranges into slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone.
Heat olive oil over medium high in a large skillet. Shred pork on a plate, then press pork in batches onto the hot skillet. When pork is brown on one side, flip the pieces and brown on the other. Each side takes approximately 1-2 minutes.
Serve browned pork with warm tortillas and your favorite taco toppings.
To make tortilla bowls, heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray the front and back of large flour tortillas with nonstick spray (or brush with olive oil). Place upside down mason jars onto a pan, then press tortillas around the outside of the jars. Bake until crispy and evenly browned, approximately 15 minutes.
Orange juice is a great liquid for slow-cooked pork due to that tart acidity, especially the juice of blood oranges. Squeeze your own please – you only need 1/2 – 1 cup, and it’s so worth the effort! Plus, you can throw in the pulp for extra Vitamin C. The pulp will dissolve and you’ll never know it was there in the first place.
Directions on how to make crispy tortilla shells is above but if you have a few mason jars, nonstick spray or a brush for olive oil, and an oven, you can make them in mere minutes.
The trick to carnitas occurs after cooking is 100% complete. Shred like normal, then sauté in a little olive oil in a hot skillet until crispy. Don’t skip this part! That sauté makes carnitas what they are – luscious bites of pork that beg for a taco shell and some cabbage.
Have a great week!
Question: What is your favorite type of orange? Do you cook or bake with blood oranges? What do you make?