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.
- 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!