Chipotle Copycat Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

SERVES 10  |  ACTIVE TIME 15 Min  |  TOTAL TIME 6 Hours 15 Min

5 pound pork shoulder (also known as pork butt)
2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
4 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried rosemary (or 3 large fresh rosemary sprigs)
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 cup water

Rinse pork roast under cool water. Pat dry with a paper towel (do not skip this step, patting it dry helps create less steam and creates a better sear).

Preheat a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place pork on a plate and sprinkle on all sides, with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Once the oil is shimmering and hot, carefully place pork in a Dutch oven (do not wait or the seasoning will begin to draw out moisture). Sear each side. Allow pork to sizzle in the pan without touching it for at least 2 minutes.

The pork will naturally release from the pan once it is properly seared. If it is sticking to the bottom of the pan, it is most likely not seared yet. It will take 2-5 minutes per side. Reduce heat if the pan is getting too hot.

Add bay leaves to the bottom of  your crockpot (I use a 6-quart slow cooker), place pork on top of bay leaves and carefully pour remaining cooking liquid from your Dutch oven over the pork. Add 1/2 cup water to Dutch oven, return to medium-high heat. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the stuck browned bits from the bottom. Once the mixture is boiling, pour it over the pork in the slow cooker. Sprinkle rosemary, thyme and remaining salt and pepper into the slow cooker and over the pork. Flip the pork once to season the other side.

Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours (alternately cook on low for 10-12 hours). When the pork is tender, use 2 forks to shred meat. Taste for seasoning, if necessary add salt to taste (mine did not need salt).

Stir to coat pork in cooking liquid. Cover and cook for 30-60 minutes to help the pork absorb the juices. Serve and enjoy!

DONNA'S NOTES: Do not use non-stick pans for searing. Cast iron or stainless steel are great alternates to the dutch oven.

You can use bone-in or boneless pork, but watch your cook time as bone-in can cook faster. 

Searing the meat before placing it in the slow cooker adds another layer of flavor. While you could skip this step, I highly recommend taking the extra 15 minutes and doing it. Trust me the flavor is worth it!

If making this with fresh rosemary sprigs, I place them on the bottom of the slow cooker and put the pork roast on top.

Recipe developed by Donna Elick - The Slow Roasted Italian
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