What's For Dinner: Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

I've been home from Mexico for nearly a week, and yet somehow I've managed to have a taste of Mexico nearly every day this week. I think I might need an intervention.

This slow cooker pork carnitas meal, which should have taken just about 8 hours to prepare, turned into an epic three-day affair as the first day's cooking was interrupted by a small power outage (luckily near the end of the cooking period) and the following night we had dinner plans out with a friend. (I like to test new recipes first before sharing the results with others!)

Luckily, last night everything finally came together and I was able to see the carnitas through to the end. After 8 hours (and then some, in my case) in the slow cooker, the pork is super-tender and easy to shred with a couple of forks. Ten minutes under the broiler gives the carnitas a crispy texture, while the addition of some of the cooking broth keeps them perfectly moist. I served the carnitas on corn tortillas, but they could easily be used in tacos, burritos, or as a topping to a fresh green salad. Yum!

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (printer-friendly version)
makes 4-6 servings

1 (3-5 lb.) boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
1 orange, cut in half
12 ounces root beer (I prefer brands made with cane sugar)

1. Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. In a small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Gently rub the spice mixture onto the pork, coating it evenly.
2. Add the chopped garlic and chopped jalapeno to the slow cooker. Squeeze the orange juice over top the pork, then nestle the spent orange rinds around the pork. Carefully pour the root beer onto the pork, then cover the slow cooker with the lid. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
3. Once tender, use two forks to shred the pork into small pieces.
4. Set the oven to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Carefully transfer the shredded pork onto the prepped baking sheet in a single layer. (If you have a lot of pork, you may need to do this part in two or more batches.) Pour about 1/4-cup of the slow cooker broth over the pork. Broil for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and use a spatula to carefully flip the shredded pork over. Drizzle with another 1/4-cup of the broth, then broil for another 5 minutes.
5. Remove the shredded pork from the oven, drizzle with another 1/4-cup of slow cooker broth, then serve immediately on tortillas with your favorite toppings.

(Inspired by recipes from the Food Network, Pinch of Yum, and Gimme Some Oven