Monday, February 27, 2012

Mmm, Mmm Monday- Carnitas!

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth (although I sometimes feel like I have!).  This school year is kicking my rear end! With these new teacher evaluations, meetings, and a, shall we say, "spirited" class, I feel like I barely have time to breathe, let alone cook!

But yesterday, I actually found the time to feed my family, instead of letting them fend for themselves (I kid! Kind of.). I've been craving carnitas, but my backside was pleading with me to resist.  Carnitas are a Mexican pulled pork dish made from slow-roasted pork that practically melts in your mouth.  What makes it melt in your mouth, you may ask? Fat. The meat gets tender, the fat gets crispy and It's a religious experience. 

Since we've been trying to eat healthy, I found this alternative to traditional carnitas that I made with a pork tenderloin.  Much healthier, and when combined with the proper toppings, completely satisfying and delicious.

Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
recipe adapted from Skinnytaste

1.5 pounds pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
dry Sazon Goya seasoning
garlic powder
3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth
2 bay leaves

Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper.  Brown the meat over medium-high heat on each side (about 10 minutes total). Don't skip this step! This helps keep the tenderloin moist and gives it a nice carmelization on the outside.

Allow the pork to cool or put on your big girl (or boy) panties and get right to work. Using a sharp knife, piece the meat and slide a sliver of garlic into the hole. Continue all around the pork.

Generously season the pork with the garlic powder, Goya seasoning, and cumin.  Rub in the seasonings (The seasoning I used is delicious, but it will turn your hands red.  It'll come right off though.). Pour the chicken broth into the crock pot and add the bay leaves. Place the pork on top.  You can do all of this the night before and turn it on the next morning if your mornings are hectic. I love easy! Cook on low for 8 hours.

When the pork is done, shred the meat with two forks, or use this handy method: Place the meat in your Kitchen Aid mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low (about a 2) and the meat will shred easily!

Voila! Perfectly shredded meat! This also works great for chicken. Add the meat back into the crock pot and stir to allow the meat to absorb the juices. Let it cook for another 15-30 minutes.

My favorite way to eat carnitas: in a warm corn tortilla with lots of pico de gallo and lime. Yum! This amount was perfect for our family and we even had enough for Andy to take for lunch the next day.  You can increase the size of the pork to suit your needs.  Just adjust the amount of garlic...everything else should work!
 Reviews from the Peanut Gallery
Me: 5 out of 5 stars.  While this was not as juicy as traditional carnitas, they were just as delicious.  They satisfied the craving and it was easy to put together for a wonderful meal. What more could you want?

Andy: 4.5 out 5 stars. The original recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, which was left out of this recipe.  That is the only reason this isn't a 5.  Other than that, they are delicious and you can't even tell that they are low fat.

Emma: She loved them!  She ate all of her mini tacos without any prompting and even asked for more.

And making her Mmm, Mmm Monday debut:

Sophia: She tore this UP! We diced it up really small and we couldn't give it to her fast enough. She spent most of dinner with as many fingers in her mouth as possible.

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