It's no secret that my love for Mexican and slow cookers runs deep. Combine the two and well, you can just imagine how excited I am about what's happening here. Especially when I come home starving after a hella hectic Monday at work, a seemingly weekly occurrence around our house.
The literal translation of carnitas is "little meats" (does anyone else find the single dish with a plural name thing confusing, too?), a Mexican dish traditionally made by braising and then frying pork either in oil or lard, giving it that fall-off-the-bone tenderness with a crispy finish. While that all sounds totally lovely and utterly delicious, that's not something we can (nor should) eat on the reg so I made a healthier version: chicken braised in a simple combo of OJ, lime juice and a few spices to tenderise and flavour the meat, and then briefly broiled for a still crispy but not-fried finish. Three words: Who. Needs. Pork. Ok, six: Fried. In. Oil. So that might be a bit dramatic (because legit carnitas are indeed ridiculously amazing) but for what it's worth to your waistline, the slow cooker–broiler combo is pretty darn good too. The citrus juices and spices leave behind so much flavour. Besides the fact that they're delicious and good for you, here are two other reasons I love these slow cooker chicken carnitas:
- They're stupid easy. I kid you not — they pretty much make themselves. It took five minutes to get everything into the slow cooker and 10 minutes to brown them in the skillet. The rest of the time was hands-off, taste-testing and photo shoot aside.
- They're insanely versatile. I mean, you can use this chicken in literally anything that's even remotely Mexican: tamales, tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, enchiladas, heck — even tossed into a bowl of tomato or black bean soup with a sprinkle of cheese and crushed tortilla chips on top. (That last one is one of my go-to single girl dinners the nights the hubs and I eat separately.)
Basically, you need these chicken carnitas in your life. And your belly. I'd give you some of mine (ours?) but the hubs and I have a burrito bowl in our future this evening and there just isn't (aren't?) enough. Enjoy! To get the full recipe, check out her blog!