We make “Carnitas” about once a month. True Carnitas are braised and fried – but we can never get them to fry properly (and it totally jacks up our pans) – so we just cook everything in a crock pot and leave it at that.
It’s super easy: just cut up 4-5 pounds of pork shoulder (or whatever you can find – NO bone or skin) into 1.5 inch pieces and throw them all into a crock pot with 1/2 C water, 2 Tb Lard or Coconut Oil, Salt, Pepper, Oregano and 2 Bay Leaves. Cook on Low for about six hours, stirring occasionally, then shred and serve any way you’d like.
As you can see, there will be a lot of leftover liquid in your crock pot – so I suggest using a slotted spoon to serve and store the meat for leftovers so it doesn’t get soggy.
One of our favorite things to do with Carnitas is make pineapple quesadillas. I had my first pork and pineapple quesadilla at Lolita in Downtown Boston – and it was serious, serious love at first bite.
After a few tries, I finally came up with the recipe below – and it’s pretty darn close to what I remember from the restaurant – except for that it’s ALL gluten free.
Pork & Pineapple Quesadillas
If you make Carnitas… this will yield way, way more quesadillas than you need. Alex and I usually have two each, and we use the leftover Carnitas for a variety of other dishes – BBQ pork, stuffed sweet potatoes, etc.
Corn Tortillas (or other gluten-free tortillas)
Oil for your pan
Pineapple Rings (we usually buy canned, but fresh would be wonderful)
Heat up a bit of oil in a large nonstick pan. Throw down one tortilla, place some cheese over it, and wait for it to melt just a bit. Next, place a pineapple ring in the middle, cover with a few Tablespoons of Carnitas and add another thin layer of cheese.
Let the bottom quesadilla brown over medium to medium-high heat for a few minutes (it will begin to shrink down in size). Flip carefully – since these are SUPER full – and then let the other side brown for a few minutes.
If you are using large tortillas – just fill one half of the tortilla with all of the ingredients and then fold the empty side over before you flip. You’ll have a big, half-sized quesadilla instead of the small round quesadillas that you get if you use corn tortillas.
Serve immediately with sour cream, salsa and my super fast guacamole. Rice and beans are great with this, too. Enjoy!
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