One Recipe Two Ways: Basic Pork Roast and Pork Carnitas

Being that Cinco de Mayo falls on a Thursday this year, I was trying to come up with a recipe that I could share that would have a Tex-Mex flair, but still be quick and easy to throw together on a busy week night. And because I am all about making life easier, this recipe is one that can be thrown in a slow cooker in about 15 minutes, slow roasted all day, then served two different ways.  For a busy gal like me, I love that!

First, a basic pork roast that is anything but boring.

Later, mouth-watering pork carnitas.  Perfect for a weeknight Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Seriously. Those carnitas are a force to reckoned with. I must have been pretty excited about them, because not only did I not take a cast shot, but I didn’t photograph mixing the spice rub, or rubbing it on the pork roast.  Hmmm…I’ll have to work on that. I’m going to trust that you can do all that without a pictorial, ‘kay? Thanks.

Some days I suck as a food blogger. 😉

Start by making a spice rub with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt.  Then rub that spice mixture onto every surface of the pork roast.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until really hot. Place the roast into the hot skillet, and sear on one side for about a minute, or until very brown. Flip the roast and continue to sear on all sides, until the entire roast is very brown.

Searing is perhaps the single most important thing to do to any meat before putting it in a slow cooker. Browning the meat on all sides seals in the juices, which helps keep the meat from getting too dry during the cooking process.

Spray the inside of a slow cooker crock with olive oil or cooking spray.

Put the pork roast into the prepared crock.

The second most important thing to do when slow cooking meat, is to add a little tasty liquid to the mix. The liquid will also help keep the roast moist, and steep in a little punch of flavor in the process. I poured in a touch of apple juice, because apples and pork are made for each other.  Put the lid on the crock, and roast on low heat for 5-6 hours, or until done.

Once the roast is done, remove it from the crock and let it rest for few minutes.  The resting period will keep those tasty juices right where they belong–in the roast. While you are waiting, try not to drool over that spicy crust! That’s some serious flavor, right there!

Slice the roast, and serve with a great salad and some crusty bread.  OR

Chop or shred the pork and serve carnita style in a warm corn tortilla. I like to top my carnitas with guacamole, Cherry Republic’s Organic Chipotle Salsa, shredded cheddar, a dab of Greek yogurt, and a little cilantro.  Sass ’em up any way that you like! The world is your carnita!

And if you do decide to make these carnitas, think outside the Corona when you think beverages. Serve ’em up with NanaBread’s Mexican Martinis.

Here’t the handy printable:

Basic (Slow Cooker) Pork Roast and Carnitas

Serves 6-8

2 ½-3 pounds pork tenderloin roast

2 tsp. chili powder

3 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)

¼ tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. olive oil

1/3 C. apple juice

  1. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt.
  2. Rub dry spice mixture onto all surfaces of the pork roast; set aside.
  3. Pour olive oil into a large skillet. Heat skillet and oil over medium-high heat, until very hot.
  4. Sear the pork roast in the hot oil until browned, about 1 minute. Turn the roast and continue searing on all sides.
  5. Spray the crock of a slow cooker with olive oil or cooking spray.  Place the seared roast into the crock.
  6. Pour the apple juice around the sides of the roast.
  7. Cover and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours, or until done.
  8. Slice and serve roast.
  9. Leftover roast make excellent pork carnitas: chop or shred pork, and serve in warm tortillas with cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or your favorite toppings.

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  1. says

    Roasting meats is basically a calling. They’re a guaranteed delicious plate of food regardless of whether it’s the first evening it’s being served or whether it has been reincarnated as leftovers.

    And, as an added perk, you can basically roast it for whatever culture you’re in the mood for at the moment.

    Victory for all.

  2. says

    My go-to version of pork carnitas involves one orange and a lime. I think I may have to try your apple juice method next time – just to shake it up! Sounds delish, and that crust on the outside is spectacular. Thanks for the linky love on the Mexican Martinis. I’m planning to make a pitcher this weekend… a Mother’s Day gift to myself.

    • says

      Good call. I like to squirt a little lime juice on the carnita before layering on the toppings. A few of my girls want to try your Mexican Martinis at our next GNO–whenever that will be.

  3. Kim Gornyecz says

    Made this on Sunday and ate it as a roast, then had the leftovers as carnitas yesterday. SO YUMMY!!!! This is my pork roast recipe from now on! The carnitas were the best part, especially after the leftover meat marinated in its juices in the fridge overnight. Plus- it’s easy! Super triple bonus!(get it? 2 meals + 1 shot of easy = a recipe trifecta! Yay!!!)


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