If there is one thing I love it is taco’s, and I am not talking about fast food places to get my taco fix either. I love taco’s Chicken, shredded beef or carnitas, but what I don’t care for is processed taco shells, seasoning mix, or bottled taco sauce. What it comes down to is if you skip the processed ingredients and use flour or corn tortillas, make your own sauce out of a few ingredients along with your own seasoning, then your cost is relatively the same and you are eating a healthier version.
Now not everyone is a fan of carnita’s, as the main filling is typically “fried” with a lot of lard before being roasted or braised. Carnita’s literally means “little meats”. Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich ‘boston butt’ or ‘picnic ham’ cuts of pork. Don’t get me wrong carnitas are great, but it’s also made with a cut of pork that has a lot of fat and then fried, then braised. So if you want a slightly different version that is lighter but still packs a punch in flavors, then give mine a try.
This recipe is also “slow cooker/crock pot” friendly so you don’t have to turn the oven or broiler on. or spend all day in the kitchen. I also made a cilantro-lime dressing to go with this light and tasty taco dish.
Ingredients for pork:
2 – 3 lbs pork loin, trimmed of excess fat
3-4 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp new mexico chili powder
1 tsp california chili powder
1 tsp pasillia chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup water
1 T. olive oil
1 T. salt & pepper
Shredded red cabbage
queso fresco cheese
Ingredients for cilantro-lime dressing:
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tsp fresh lime juice
zest of one lime
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cayenne pepper, or more if you want it spicy
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground onion powder
large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Directions for pork:
Set slow cooker to high for 4-6 hours depending of how many pounds you are cooking.
Trim pork loin of any excess fat, some fat can stay to add flavor. Pat dry with paper towels and salt.
Using a whisk put all dried ingredients in a bowl and mix well together. Mince or crush garlic and place aside.
Using a large skillet heat over medium high add oil and then add pork to sear all sides 3-4 minutes, you may have to sear pork in batches.
Remove from skillet and place in large crock pot.
Add water to skillet to de-glaze and with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula scrape up all bits of flavor.
Pour all the juices from skillet into the bowl of dried ingredients and using whisk incorporate water and spices, add garlic and pour over pork.
Place lid and walk away till its done.
Once done remove pork with tongs and leave liquid in slow cooker, and using forks meat should shred easily.
Put shredded pork back into slow cooker drop heat to low or warm till you are ready to serve.
This is great with black beans or cilantro lime rice, refried beans and a cold cerveza!
Directions for cilantro lime dressing:
Using a blender or food processor mix mayo and sour cream until its well blended.
Add all dried ingredients and pulse for 30 seconds.
Using a micro-plane zest lime into food processor and add juice, pulse again for about 30 seconds.
Add cilantro and pulse about 5 times, remove cover and taste to add salt if needed or adjust heat or other spices to your liking.
Pour into serving boat and use on taco’s, salads, quesadillas.
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