Recipe: Slow Cooker Peach Carnitas

Recipe: Slow Cooker Peach Carnitas

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Christine Gallary
Jul 21, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman/The Kitchn)

If you come over to my house for dinner, I'll most likely serve carnitas tacos. Why? The combination of tender pork, crunchy fresh toppings, and soft warm tortillas make for a fun, satisfying meal that each person can customize to their exact mood and preferences. Traditional carnitas always hit the spot, but, come summer, I like to switch things up and make a vibrant peach salsa.

Slow Cooker Peach Carnitas: Watch the Video

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman/The Kitchn)

If you're a bit skeptical about the idea of peach carnitas, let me reassure you that you won't be left with pork cooked in peach jam. One halved peach just adds a slight perfume to complement the deep flavors of the pork.

The rest of the peaches are made into a fresh, chunky salsa. If you're not a fan of tomato salsa or just want a different option, this peach salsa balances out ripe juicy peaches with white onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro. It's so good you can just break out a bag of chips for dipping too, but make sure you save enough for the carnitas! Don't throw together the salsa until you're ready to serve, though — the salt pulls out the juices from the ingredients quickly, so it's best to wait until the last minute or you'll end up with watery salsa.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman/The Kitchn)

Two-Step Cooking

The beauty of carnitas is that while it's a two-step process (slow cooking, and then browning), each one is easy to do. There's no browning of the meat before it goes into the slow cooker, making it the ultimate dump-and-cook recipe when you need to rush out the door in the morning. After it's braised, you can even freeze the carnitas before browning for up to three months, which is what I like to do since we usually can't eat all of it up quickly enough. When you're ready to eat, just harness the power of your broiler to get that trademark crispiness we all love in carnitas. Broiled on an aluminum foil-covered baking sheet, there's no cleanup, the pork browns evenly, and you can do a big batch in just minutes.

Pick up a few extra peaches this week at the market and celebrate summer with a taco dinner!

Slow Cooker Peach Carnitas

Serves 6 to 8

For the carnitas:
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 yellow or white onion, peeled and quartered
1 medium peach, halved and pitted
8 peeled garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

For the peach salsa:
1 pound peaches, small dice (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 medium jalapeño (seeded if desired to reduce spiciness), finely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For serving:
12 to 16 small corn or flour tortillas
Sliced avocado
Lime wedges
Hot sauce

Make the carnitas: Place the pork in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Sprinkle with the salt and oregano, and toss to combine. Tuck the peach, onion, garlic, and bay leaves among the pork. Pour in the water and lime juice. Cover and cook until fork tender, about 8 hours on the LOW setting or 4 to 5 hours on the HIGH setting.

When the pork is ready, arrange a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to the baking sheet. (Discard the juices or strain out the solids and save for another use.) Use a fork to slightly shred the meat into an even layer.

Make the salsa: Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and season with salt as needed; set aside for the flavors to meld while browning the carnitas.

Broil the carnitas until a dark golden-brown crust forms on top, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the carnitas and broil until the second side is golden-brown, about 4 minutes more. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas one at a time over a gas burner, or stack and wrap completely in aluminum foil and warm in the oven while the carnitas is browning.

Transfer the pork to a serving bowl. Serve with the warmed tortillas, peach salsa, avocados, lime wedges, and hot sauce.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: Slow-cook the pork, remove from the cooking liquid to an airtight container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then proceed with broiling.
  • No-broil option: If you don't have a broiler or want to brown small amounts of carnitas, brown in a frying pan heated over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over.
  • Storage: Leftover carnitas can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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