Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Slow-Cooker Carnitas with Roasted-Tomatillo Salsa

Taco night takes on new meaning when the ingredients are fresh and homemade. The braised pork and tomatillo salsa can be made a day ahead. Gently warm the pork and bring the salsa to room temperature before serving. Make the guacamole and warm the tortillas just before dinner.

Mexican cotija cheese is similar to Greek feta but a bit saltier and firmer. It’s great for crumbling over just about anything, including these tender, savory carnitas and tangy tomatillo salsa.

One Brand of Cotija Cheese
Makes about 16 tacos


For the Carnitas
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-1/2 to 4-lb pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 habanero chile, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro (leaves and small stems)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 16 6-inch warm corn or flour tortillas, fresh guacamole, and crumbled cotija, for serving
Aromatics for the Carnitas
For the Salsa
  • 6 tomatillos, husks removed
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 small jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, leaves and small stems
  • juice of half a lime
Salsa Ingredients

For the Carnitas
  1. Combine the cumin, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork and place the meat, onion, chile, and cilantro in a slow-cooker. Pour in the broth (liquid should come just to the top of the other ingredients).
  2. Cook on high for 4 to 4-1/2 hours (check for tenderness after 4 hours). Transfer the pork to a plate and let cool until cool enough to handle. Pull into shreds.
  3. Place the pulled pork in a nonstick skillet and heat over very low heat until hot throughout, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl (or serve the pork in the skillet with a few potholders stacked beneath).
Spice-Rubbed Pork 
Ready for Broth 
Broth Added
Slow-Cooker Pork 
Pulled Pork
Serve the carnitas with the roasted-tomatillo salsa (recipe follows), guacamole, warm tortillas, and cotija and let your guests build their own tacos.

Slow-Cooker Carnitas with Roasted-Tomatillo Salsa
 For the Salsa
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Quarter the tomatillos and place in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  3. Spread the tomatillos on the baking sheet and roast until soft and beginning to brown, 8-9 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.
  4. Transfer the roasted tomatillos to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Pulse until chunky smooth. Check for seasoning, adding salt, as needed.
Tomatillos Ready to Roast 
Roasted Tomatillos
Ready to Process
Transfer to a serving bowl. (May be made a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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