- revised and improved version

6-7 lbs boneless pork shoulder/butt - as fatty as you can find **DO NOT TRIM OFF ANY FAT (we use 1/2 the huge pork shoulder/butt from Costco)
3 onions, peeled and quartered
5 whole stalks celery (including leaves), rinsed, broken to fit in pot - not chopped
7 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised enough to let go of flavor
4 dried bay leaves
3 teaspoons dried thyme

To be added later
3 tablespoons cumin
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons salt

Timing is everything on this recipe. It takes quite a while and I have found I prefer using the slow cooker. I am still working out the best timing for when to start it, and have it ready at dinner time. The next time I make it, I plan to start it right before I go to bed.

In a large slow cooker, layer the quartered onions, celery, garlic, and bay leaves on the bottom of the crock. Sprinkle the thyme over the onions and celery. DO NOT ADD SALT YET.

Cut the pork into about 2 inch cubes and layer over the vegetables. DO NOT ADD ANY WATER.
Put the lid on and turn on the cooker on low. Make sure the timer is set for at least 8 hours or more.

After several hours, check to see if the moisture of the vegetables has pooled a bit in the bottom, then start turning the contents over a bit. Since I haven't tried starting this at bedtime yet, I'm hoping all will be well with the meat when I get up in the morning. I'll update this with my results next time I make it.

After enough of the meat and veggies juice has pooled in the bottom, bring the veggies to the top with a spoon so as much of the meat as possible is down in the juices.
Cook until the meat flakes easily with a fork. If pressing down on a chunk of meat with a fork doesn't cause it to flake apart easily, it isn't done yet.

Once the pork is cooked, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Spoon out the meat into a couple of casserole dishes, discarding the onions and celery. Keep the juices for a later step.
Use a couple of forks to separate and shred the pork, spreading it out into the casserole dishes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the debris in the remaining juices. DO NOT REMOVE ANY FAT! Stir in the cumin, salt, and milk. Pour the liquid over the meat.

Bake the meat in the hot oven, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the juices have evaporated off and all that remains is the pork fat. If you like them crispy, cook them a little longer, letting the meat fry a little in the fat.

Nutritional Info:
Per 1/2 cup:
255 cal., 67% (171 cal.) from fat
17 g protein
19 g fat (6.9 g sat.)
3 g carbohydrates (0.5 g fiber)
191 mg sodium; 71 mg chol.

The original recipe before Jan's alterations was found at
Recipe ID: 13102

Back to Jan's Recipes

Carnitas - original version

1 boned, tied pork shoulder or butt (4 to 5 lb.)
2 onions, peeled and quartered
4 stalks celery (including leaves), rinsed and cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
To be added later
2 tablespoons cumin
1/2 cup milk

(Jan’s Note #1: I tried adding 1 tsp cumin the 2nd time I made this; try 1 Tbsp next time)
(Jan’s Note #2: Steve Browning spiced it with 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning. After cooking, Butch added ground pepper. All combined, it had a little bite to it.)
(Jan’s Note #3: I found another recipe that uses the crockpot and about 12 ounces of beer. (I won't use the beer next time...leaves a taste I don't care for.) I tried it using about 3.5 pounds of meat and about 1/2 these other ingredients. I cooked it overnight about 12 hours in the crockpot on low. The meat was incredibly tender and easy to pull apart. There was less liquid to deal with and have to cook down. I pulled apart the meat and poured all of the liquid on it along with the milk and cumin, then put it in the oven to cook down.

Rinse pork and put in a 6 to 8-quart pan. Add onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough water to cover meat--2 1/2 to 3 1/2 quarts.

Bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat, and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Jan’s note: cook at least 2.5 hours). With slotted spoons, transfer pork to a 9- by 13-inch pan; reserve cooking juices. Discard string, and use 2 forks to pull meat into large chunks. Pour milk over meat.

Bake pork in a 325° oven until drippings are browned, about 1 hour, stirring and scraping pan occasionally. (Jan’s note: to get it crispy, it takes more like 2.5 hours)

Meanwhile, pour reserved juices through a strainer into a bowl; discard residue. Skim and discard fat. (Jan’s Note: if the cut of meat isn’t fat enough, reserve some of the fat with juices). Return juices to pan. Boil over high heat until reduced to 2 cups, about 45 minutes.

When pork drippings are browned, add 1 cup of the reduced juices; scrape drippings free and stir meat, breaking into smaller pieces. Bake until juices have evaporated and drippings are browned, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Repeat step, using remaining juices, and cook until meat edges are crisp and browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt.

Makes 8 cups. Per 1/2 cup: 255 cal., 67% (171 cal.) from fat; 17 g protein; 19 g fat (6.9 g sat.); 3 g carbo (0.5 g fiber); 191 mg sodium; 71 mg chol.

The original recipe before Jan's alterations was found at
Recipe ID: 13102

Back to Jan's Recipes