Slow Cooker Carnitas




In 2000, I worked at Chevy’s Mexican Restaurant for a stint. There, we’d cook the carnitas in Coca-Cola and oranges. The Coke would provide color and sweetness, and the oranges would lend a subtle layer of citrus. While they were tasty and colorful, they weren’t all that good for you.

Today, I give you my take on Carnitas and hope they might find their way onto the spread at your Super Bowl Party this Sunday. I look to Tamari and annato to bring some color and rely on oranges alone for a slight bit of sweetness. The real star of the show is the pork itself. When cooked slowly with a supply of moisture, pork is unrivaled. As a matter of fact, pork is unrivaled however you cook it. It lends itself so beautifully to so many things from head cheese and ham to pork chops and pancetta, from fried pigs ears and tender cheeks to braised bellies and baby back ribs.

Anyhow, give these carnitas a whirl. The recipe is solid and only takes 10 minutes to throw together. You can serve it with lettuce wraps, over yams, inside fried sweet potato cups, or even with a stack of celery sticks.

Tortillas and chips are the easy way out. Don’t take the elevator, guys. Take the stairs.

Make it a great week and at every eating session, do your best to…

“Keep It Paleo!”

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

(Early morning sesh with the boys today…)

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Ingredients List:

  • 5 pounds pork, dark meat (labeled carnitas, cushion, shoulder) trimmed of fat and cut into orange size chunks
  • 10 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2.5 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 oranges, quartered
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 oz. Tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon annatto (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle puree or 2 chipotle in adobo
  • Red onion, minced (to garnish)
  • Cilantro, to garnish

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in the crock of your slow cooker.
  2. Place slow cooker on a foil lined sheet pan and cook on high for 12 hours.
  3. Break pork chunks apart with a spoon and serve immediately, or portion into pint containers and freeze for up to 6 months.

“Keep It Paleo!”

Zone Breakdown:

Proteins: (66)

Our protein comes from our pork. We are starting with 5 pounds, or 80oz, of pork, which after cooking down to about 66 oz.   With pork being 1oz per block, that gives us 66oz of protein.

Carbohydrates: (9)

Our carbs come from the oranges that we are using to cook with the pork. Every orange equals about 2 blocks, so therefore we have 8 carb blocks from the oranges. We also get one block from the garlic. About 10 cloves equal one block giving us a total of 9 blocks.

Fats: (0)

There are no added fats to this recipe.

Balancing Act:

The proteins are way higher than the carbs in this recipe. If we divide it into 18 servings, we will end up with 3.5 protein blocks and ½ carb block per serving, so make sure you add some carbs and fats to bring this up into balance.


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