You start with a pork butt roast.
I don’t know why this cut of pork is called butt roast. It’s cut from the shoulder. It is also called pork shoulder roast.
I live in Iowa and see lots of pigs. Their butts are not on their shoulders. This is a mystery to me.
From here on I’m calling the cut of pork that is used to make carnitas Pork Shoulder Roast. I just like it better. I want you to know from the beginning, though, that pork shoulder roast is also called pork butt roast and no matter which name is used in the grocery store you are getting the same cut of meat.
Pork Shoulder Roast
The pork shoulder roast is a huge cut of meat weighing 5-8 pounds. It has a large bone in it, and it is wonderful for slowly smoking in a smoker or for slow-cooking in a crockpot.
I always buy a couple of these huge roasts when they’re on sale because it’s an inexpensive way to feed a lot of people at once or a few people with lots of leftovers. If you’re feeding four people or less, cut the roast in half as shown in the above photo. Cook one half and freeze the other half. Obviously, the large bone will be in one of the halves. Factor that in when considering the number of people you’re serving.
How to Prepare the Roast to Freeze
Wrap the roast in wax paper.
Wrap the roast again in aluminum foil and label with a Sharpee marker.
Place your roast in the freezer.
How to Make Busy Week Carnitas
Half of a pork shoulder roast
1 7 oz. can of chipotles in adobo sauce
(Most of the heat in a pepper is in the seeds. I remove the seeds because I’m a weenie.)
1 whole sweet onion
1 whole lime
1 whole orange OR (because I forgot to get oranges at the store) 1 15 oz. can of no-sugar-added Mandarin oranges
½ tsp. each of salt and pepper or to taste
Brown the pork shoulder roast on all sides in the oil of your choice a skillet. I like unrefined organic coconut oil.
Then place the roast in a crockpot. Preheating an empty crockpot to speed cooking time will result in a cracked crock. Ask me how I know this. 😀 Don’t do it.
Pour the oil from the skillet over the roast in the crockpot. That oil with the pan drippings is flavor. You want that.
Cut the lime in half, squeeze the juice over the roast, then toss in the lime peel. Do the same with the orange. If you’re using canned Mandarin oranges, just dump them in. They’ll disintegrate as the roast cooks. Pour the chipotle peppers and their sauce over the roast. Chop the onion into large chunks and place on top of the roast.
Put the lid on the crockpot and cook the roast on low for about 8 hours or on high for about 5 hours. These cooking times are guidelines because cooking time depends on the size of the roast and on the crockpot.
The roast is done when the meat can easily be pulled apart with a fork.
Set up an assembly area for the carnitas
The roast will be tender and fall apart if you try to lift it out of the crockpot all at once. Use a meat-serving fork to pull the meat apart and place it in a serving bowl. Since you’re putting the meat in a tortilla, try not to get too much juice in the meat.
Set up in separate dishes all your favorite carnitas toppings. We like traditional taco toppings: flour tortillas, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, etc.
Let everyone assemble their own and enjoy!
The best part is that the meat will taste better tomorrow. When you put away the leftovers, the flavors in the roast will “marry” and create an even better meal. Because you’re busy, having leftovers is one of the goals of this meal.
This meal is super-easy for everyone in your household to help themselves for a couple of days while you all work or play at whatever it is that is keeping you occupied.
What are some of your favorite meals that make lots of leftovers? How do you manage those busy times when cooking can be a challenge and eating out isn’t in the budget?