Valentine’s Day Quick Carnitas Tacos

fullsizerender-3On a whim, I decided to make carnitas tacos for Valentine’s Day dinner at home.  I didn’t have to worry about not thinking ahead because my pressure cooker would cook the meat even if it wasn’t all the way thawed in time.  Whew!

Thankfully I’d thrown a pork shoulder in the freezer when they’d been on sale at the grocery store, so I’d just have to rummage through the refrigerator and cupboard to see what I could cobble together to make a meal.

Appetizer:  Spicy Pickled Carrots & Jalapenos

  • 6 Carrotsfullsizerender-4
  • 2 Large Jalapenos
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 tsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water

Boil the water and apple cider vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  When at a full rolling boil shut off the flame and immediately add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir once and let stand for about an hour.  Serve at room temperature, or if you have time, refrigerate to bring out even more flavor.  Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within a week.

Now on to the main course.

Pressure Cooker Carnitas

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 3 Pounds Pork Shoulder
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, Sliced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Peeled
  • 4-6 Sprigs Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Large Fresh Lemon
  • 1 Jalapeño Sliced in Half
  • 1 1/3 Cup Chicken Broth


  1. Set the pressure cook to brown setting
  2. Pour the oil into the pressure cooker
  3. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and cloves on all sides of the pork
  4. Place the pork in the pressure cooker and brown on all sides
  5. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the pork, add the onion, garlic, cilantro, halved jalapeño, the squeezed lemons and the chicken broth
  6. Cover the pressure cooker, lock on the lid, and bring to high pressure
  7. Cook pork at high pressure for 45 minutes
  8. Turn off and allow pressure to release naturally
  9. Transfer pork to a baking sheet
  10. Preheat the broiler to high
  11. Shred pork with two forks on baking sheet
  12. Broil until the pork starts to crisp, about 3 minutes.
  13. Serve with warm corn tortillas, sliced avocado, shredded cabbage, pepper jack or cojito cheese, hot sauce and wedges of lime

A can of refried beans, a couple of street tacos and a beer and it’s a meal!

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Slow Cooker Taco Tuesday Carnitas

carnitasUsing pork as your base is an easy way to treat your family to “Taco Tuesday” without the mess and long prep time if you marinate your pickled vegetables and make your chipotle cream sauce the night before.

Chipotle Cream Sauce   Mix 1/2 cup sour cream, 3 tsp minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and 1 tsp lime juice in a small container.  Mix well and taste. Add more adobo if you like yours spicier, or more sour cream if you need to tone it down. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

pickledcarrotjalapenoPickled Carrots, Onions, & Peppers  Combine in a sealable container:  3/4 Cup apple cider vinegar, 1-1/4 cups water, 1-1/2 TBLS sugar, and 2 tsp kosher salt, mixing until sugar and salt dissolve. Add 1 thinly sliced red onion, 4 sliced jalapenos (seeds in), and 4 peeled/chopped carrots, seal container and make sure all vegetables are covered in marinade.  Put in refrigerator and serve with tacos after pork has cooked.

Slow Cooker Taco Tuesday Carnitas

  • 1 – 4-5 lb pork shoulder trimmed of all fat & cut into 3-4″ chunks
  • 1 TBLS oil
  • 1 Bottle of beer
  • 1 Large white onion, diced
  • 5 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Canned chipotle in adobo chopped + 1 tsp sauce
  • 2 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. In a cast iron skillet over high heat, heat the oil. Add in the pork and sear until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  2. Place the pork in the bottom of the crock pot. Add the onion, beer, chipotle, garlic, and seasonings, and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Starting at 6 hours, check your pork. When it easily shreds with a fork, remove from the broth and shred.
  4. Preheat the broiler and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Scatter the pork around the baking sheets and ladle about ¼ cup of the broth over each sheet of pork.
  5. Place one sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, then toss the pork and ladle another ¼ cup of broth over. Broil once more, until crispy but not overcooked, and then ladle another ¼ cup broth over the pork. Repeat with the second sheet.
  6. When the pork is done, make tacos in toasted corn tortillas with the chipotle cream and pickled onions, carrots and jalapenos. Sprinkle with cotija cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

blackbeansServe with an ice cold Mexican beer like Corona, Pacifico, Dos Equis, Modelo, or Tecate; cilantro lime rice and black beans for a great meal!

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