Slow Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Cups
with salsa / avocados / roasted cauliflower
We have used slow cooker carnitas in a variety of ways in past meal plans, but its natural richness offers a nice contrast to crisp lettuce cups.
Smarts: Make a double batch of carnitas tonight and save half for a soup later in the week.
Smarts: This recipe could be made in the Instant Pot. For tips, join the Cook Smarts Instant Pot Facebook Group.
- 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, ground - 3 tsp
- Cumin, ground - 2 tsp
- Salt - 2 tsp
- Black pepper - 1 tsp
- Avocados - 1, sliced
- Lettuce, iceberg or romaine - 12 leaves
- Cilantro - 1/4 bunch, leaves torn
- Slow-cooker carnitas (ingredients listed separately) - ~3 cups
- Salsa, store-bought - for serving
- Cauliflower florets - 1 lb
- Foil - for cooking
- Oil, olive - 2 Tbsp
- Paprika, smoked - 2 tsp
- Hot sauce (opt) - 2 tsp
- Pepitas / pumpkin seeds - 1/4 cup
- Cauliflower / Jalapenos / Garlic - Prep as directed. Store cauliflower in one container. Combine jalapenos and garlic. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- 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, on low for 7 to 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.
- Avocados / Lettuce / Cilantro - Prep as directed.
- Heat oven to 500F / 260C.
- Spread cauliflower out onto a sheet pan and cover tightly with foil. "Steam" in oven for 10 minutes.
- When cauliflower has finished steaming, remove foil. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, paprika, hot sauce, and some salt and pepper. Return cauliflower to oven and continue roasting for 15 to 20 minutes.
- When pork is finished cooking, transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop. Reserve half the pork for Wednesday.
- [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.
- When cauliflower is finished roasting, transfer to a serving bowl and top with pepitas.
- Assemble lettuce cups by filling lettuce leaves with carnitas, avocados, salsa, and cilantro leaves (or set it all out on the table and let everyone assemble their own). Enjoy cauliflower on the side.
This was better than my previous carnitas recipe. I loved this.0 Helpful
This was good but wouldn’t go in my saved recipes. I would be curious about doing the non-vegetarian version someday. I had some cauliflower kicking around and am happy to try veg recipes but wonder if the carnitas may have added a bit of juice to distribute the flavours more through the quinoa? As it was, all the elements were tasty but I felt like it needed a sauce or dressing or something. Maybe next time I would mix some lime juice into the sour cream to thin it out, add some acid and help distribute it.0 Helpful
Really enjoyed this. I used the instant pot to pressure cook the pork, since I hadn't left myself enough time to slow cook. (Increased stock, cooked on high for 60 minutes, natural pressure release). I had fresh bell pepper so I used that in place of the roasted/canned. Would make this again.0 Helpful
This was delicious! Quinoa tasted amazing as well as the homemade corn salsa0 Helpful
This was better than I expected. The roasted cauliflower was spiced very nicely and the quinoa was a welcome change from rice, though I'd add some butter while cooking it next time. I also added veggie sausage for protein, which was great. The sour cream was essential to making this dish worthwhile--do not skip! Also, this was almost better as leftovers, as the flavors really had a chance to meld in the fridge.0 Helpful
The pork was perfect! Lettuce was a great sub for burritos.0 Helpful