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Slow Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Cups
with salsa / avocados / roasted cauliflower

Active: 40 min Total: 7 hr 40 min
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.


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
Slow Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Cups:
  • 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
Roasted Southwestern Cauliflower:
  • 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


  1. Cauliflower / Jalapenos / Garlic - Prep as directed. Store cauliflower in one container. Combine jalapenos and garlic. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. 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.
  3. Avocados / Lettuce / Cilantro - 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, paprika, hot sauce, and 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 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. When cauliflower is finished roasting, transfer to a serving bowl and top with pepitas.
  7. 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.



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