Saturday, May 2, 2015

Shredded Pork Sliders with Fresh Mango Slaw

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a recent kitchen victory! Let me tell you the background story. In the past, I've attempted to make pork carnitas in my slow cooker, with ZERO success. Ugh. When I've tried, I always follow the directions EXACTLY, and it would smell so wonderful after eight hours in the crock pot. I'd rush into the kitchen and grab my forks, ready to shred some tender, juicy pork, was never what the recipe promised. Though always tasty, it would be chewy and sometimes tough...always disappointing.
 I have no idea what went wrong each time--whether I didn't get the right cut of meat, whether I didn't trim enough fat or didn't add enough liquid for the meat to soak any case, my pork attempts always left me with dashed hopes and feeling like a kitchen failure, ha! I took it really personally, but I learned something new each time.

At Christmas, I received a brand new crock pot as a gift! It's bigger than my original, newer than my original, and best of all, unblemished with memories from the past! I decided to keep hope alive, ha! Then, I was in the store recently and saw pork butt roasts on sale, and I knew it was time to give it another try. I bought a four-pound roast, came home and unwrapped the crock pot, read the directions from start to finish, and sent up some soulful prayers on behalf of my pork butt. (You laugh, but I took this really seriously, guys!)
I used a recipe from Chungah at Damn Delicious. Her food is ALWAYS AMAZING, so I knew I'd be in good hands, no matter the outcome. I prepped the meat the night before, and put it into the crock pot on Friday morning on a hope and a(nother) prayer...
I came home from work with bated breath and fingers crossed...I lifted the crock pot lid to find loads of moist, juicy pork! Eek! I was hopeful, but it still had to pass the fork test.....I reached into the cutlery drawer, pulled out two forks, and...they went through the pork like knives through butter! AHHHH, IT WAS THE MOST DELIGHTFUL kitchen moment I've experienced in a long time (mostly because I didn't screw it up this time!!). I was elated.
So. Here's the recipe, very slightly adapted from Damn Delicious--and I've been eating it with gusto since I made it. These sliders are just one variation of the things I've made. Also, side note--Hawaiian sweet rolls are DELICIOUS. Okay, enough talking. Recipe!

For pork carnitas:
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 pound pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
For mango slaw:
  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • 1 sweet bell pepper (I used two mini bells--red and yellow), diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Cilantro, chopped (to taste)
  • 1/4 red cabbage, shredded 
  • Juice of a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Season pork loin with spice mixture, rubbing in thoroughly on all sides.

Place garlic, onions, orange juice, lime juice and seasoned pork shoulder into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Remove pork shoulder from the slow cooker and shred the meat before returning to the pot with the juices; season with salt and pepper, to taste, if needed. Cover and keep warm for an additional 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to broil. Place carnitas onto a baking sheet and broil until crisp and crusted, about 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately.

For the slaw: 
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Nutrition Facts-- Servings: 10 Size: 1 slider with slaw  Calories: 568 • Fat: 39.2 g Carbs: 12.2 g • Fiber: 2.6 g  Protein: 43.4 g • Sugars: 8.1 g

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