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Slow Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Cups
with roasted cauliflower

Active: 40 min Total: 7 hr 40 min
Carnitas is Mexican pulled pork, a slow-cooked tender meat that balances well with the crunch of lettuce cups. Top the lettuce cups with tomatoes and avocado for lots of bright color and flavor. This recipe was featured in 2017 and is perfect for a busy week during the holidays - it can feed a crowd and you can let your slow cooker do the work for you!
Smarts: Restaurant-style carnitas is usually braised and deep fried for tender pieces of pork with crisp edges. To get those crunchy bits in this slow-cooker version, use the optional step to pan fry the portion of the pork for tonight's meal. Save half the pork if you plan to make Wednesday's sweet potato "nachos."


Slow Cooker Carnitas (enough for 2 nights):
  • Jalapenos - 1 , chopped
  • Garlic - 6 cloves , chopped
  • Stock, any type - 1/2 cup
  • Pork, boneless shoulder roast (enough for 2 nights) - 2 1/2 lbs (sometimes labeled pork butt; if using bone-in, purchase a slightly heavier cut)
  • Oregano, dried - 3 tsp
  • Cumin, ground - 2 tsp
  • Salt - 2 tsp
  • Black pepper - 1 tsp
Roasted Spiced Cauliflower:
  • Cauliflower - 1 1/2 lbs , florets
  • Foil - for roasting
  • Oil, olive - 2 Tbsp
  • Paprika, smoked - 2 tsp
  • Pepitas / pumpkin seeds - 1/4 cup
Carnitas Lettuce Cups:
  • Onions, medium - 1/4 , finely diced
  • Cilantro, fresh - 1/4 cup , leaves torn
  • Avocados - 2 , sliced
  • Lettuce, romaine - 12 leaves
  • Tomatoes, medium - 1 , diced
  • Slow-cooker carnitas (ingredients listed separately) - ~3 cups
  • Salsa, any type - 1/3 cup


  1. Cauliflower - If prepping right before cooking, turn on oven before continuing with prep steps. Chop cauliflower into florets. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Jalapenos / Garlic / Onions / Cilantro - Prep as directed and store separately. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
  3. Slow cook pork - (This makes enough for 2 nights.) Combine jalapenos, garlic, and stock in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add pork. Rub pork on the top and sides with oregano, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Cook pork until tender and easily shredded with a fork, low for 7 to 8 hours (or high for 4 to 5 hours).
  4. Avocados / Lettuce / Tomatoes - Prep as directed.

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  1. Heat oven to 500F / 260C.
  2. Spread cauliflower out onto a sheet pan and cover tightly with foil. "Steam" in oven for 10 minutes.
  3. When cauliflower has finished steaming, remove foil. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and paprika. Season with some salt and pepper. Return cauliflower to oven and continue roasting for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. When pork is finished cooking, transfer to a cutting board (reserve the cooking liquid) and roughly chop. Reserve half the pork for Wednesday.
  5. [Optional step:] If you'd like your pork crispy (like traditional carnitas), heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add some oil and then the portion of the pork for tonight's dinner. Cook without stirring until dark golden brown on the bottom. Stir and continue cooking until pork is crisp and golden brown in spots.
  6. Drizzle the shredded pork with some of the cooking liquid (you likely won't need all of it, but this will add some of the great flavor from cooking back in). Season with some salt and pepper.
  7. When cauliflower is finished roasting, transfer to a serving bowl and top with pepitas.
  8. Assemble lettuce cups by filling lettuce leaves with carnitas, avocados, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and salsa (or set it all out on the table and let everyone assemble their own). Enjoy cauliflower on the side.



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