Carnitas and Chihuahuas

23 Feb

Thanks to the Twitters, I learned that February 22 is National Margarita Day. Each and every year. Que bueno! Thuan isn’t always a fan of Tex-Mex when it comes to inauthentic, Americanized, and cheese-smothered dishes you find all too often. He is, however, a fan of more straightforward dishes.

I originally planned to make skirt steak fajitas, but as day broke and the sleet and snow rolled it, it was a perfect day for slow cooker carnitas. This dish is so easy and flavorful – it’ll be a winner every time.

Don’t you love the colors of Tex-Mex cooking?

National Margarita Day meal ingredients.

National Margarita Day meal ingredients.

Citrus Pork Carnitas

1 – 2 pounds Boneless Pork Butt (or cut as Country Style Ribs)

Salt & Pepper

Oregano & Cumin

Olive Oil

2 oranges, halved

1 lime, quartered

Small onion, rough chop

1 jalapeno, cored and seeded, cut in a few pieces

2 dried Chipotle peppers, chopped (ground seasoning will also do)

Small handful cilantro

Wash and pat dry the pork. Season well with S&P on both sides then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on and rub in the oregano and cumin.

Seasoned Pork Butt

Seasoned Pork Butt

Add to the slow cooker and squeeze orange juice over the meat. This is the only liquid you’ll add – the rest will come with the fat melts and veggies release juices. Top with the rest of the ingredients, cover and cook. If you have time, cook on low for 7 hours. If not, set it to high and cook for four.

Now that the meat was going, it was time for margaritas – of sorts. I’ve been on a huge grapefruit kick lately and thanks to Pinterest have no shortage of cocktail recipes. I found one close enough to a margarita and gave it a whirl. Fortunately a friend brought a trio of Milagro tequila samples from a recent trip to Mexico, so I could try different types of tequila to see which worked best.  This is so easy and tasty, you won’t use margarita mix ever again.

Salty Chihuahua

1 part tequila (Anejo won the day over Blanco)

2 parts fresh grapefruit juice

Splash Patron Orange Liquor (Gran Marnier or other would do)

1/2 tsp sugar


Moisten rim of glass with lime and roll in sea salt. Do not skip this step. If you insist on no salt rim, add a bit of salt to the actual drink. Trust me – it makes all the difference.

Combine ingredients with ice in shaker and do a happy margarita mixing dance. Pour in salt rimmed glass and enjoy.

Salty Chihuahua grapefruit margarita.

Salty Chihuahua grapefruit margarita. So easy and delicious.

Now you should be well-hydrated and ready to make the carnitas toppings and sides.

We’re a big pico de gallo family, so this is a must. It tastes better when the flavors have time to blend well, so make an hour or so before dinner.

Core and chop 2 medium tomatoes, 1/2 onion (white or red), big handful of cilantro, cored and diced jalapeno. Mix with teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar. Squeeze fresh lime juice and mix well to combine.

Amazing tacos in restaurants always seem to come with pickled onions of some sort, so I gave them a try. We eat them in a lot of Vietnamese dishes (Hanh Dam, pronounded “Han Yom”), but Tex-Mex style is a bit different. I shaved a quarter of an onion – because he’s just fine with the pico de gallo – and added to boiling pot of 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 orange juiced, tablespoon sugar and a few peppercorns and cloves. After the onions get happy for a minute, remove from heat and let cool for at least an hour.

While I can eat a plate full of soft tacos and not look back, my mother taught me to always have a side dish. Flavorful black beans are an easy choice. Add to a can of low sodium black beans: 1/2 diced onion, minced garlic, salt and chopped cilantro. When ready to serve, top with queso fresco.

After all of this, the pork should be ready, as you should be for another Salty Chihuahua.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker when it pulls apart easily with a fork. Use two forks to shred the meat for the tacos.

Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas, freshly shredded.

Serve with whatever fixings you like – the pico de gallo, vinegared onions, fresh sliced avocado or queso fresco. Dig in!

Pork Carnitas taco and black beans

Pork Carnitas taco and Rajas Negras



One Response to “Carnitas and Chihuahuas”

  1. Patty February 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Awesome looking meal! I definitely want to try a salty chihuahua when this diet is over 🙂

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