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I’m not letting Chipotle’s pork problem get between me and a great carnitas bowl—that’s why I tried out another Slow Cooker recipe last weekend. While the Cooking Light recipe took a lot more prep-work than America’s Test Kitchen, the result was TOTALLY worth the time. Great meat flavor, with enough spice that you honestly could eat it on it’s own, without all the side fixin’s.

Cuban Pork, Black Beans, Pico, and Plantains

Cuban Pork, Black Beans, Pico, and Plantains

The original recipe included ingredients for a great pico de gallo, but I’ve separated that below into a side dish. Other great sides with this would be sliced avocado or fried plantains (which we tried for the first time!). For all you Chef fans, leftovers can also make a great Cuban sandwich the next day.

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Shoulder with Black Beans and Rice
Cooking Light

  • 2 3/4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 4 oranges)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro stems
  • 1 medium orange, quartered with SKIN ON
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 (3-pound) bone-in pork shoulder, trimmed
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 2/3 cups hot cooked white rice
  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  2. Place bacon in a large skillet over medium heat; cook 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon. Place bacon in a 6-quart electric slow cooker.
  3. Sprinkle pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add pork to drippings in skillet; cook 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add pork shoulder to slow cooker. Pour uncooked beans around pork.
  4. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add oregano, paprika, cumin, and crushed red pepper to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add orange mixture and bay leaf to pan; bring to a boil and cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Pour onion mixture over pork.
  5. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until pork is very tender and beans are done.
  6. 1 hour before meat is done, prepare rice.
  7. Discard bay leaf. Remove pork from slow cooker (try to keep the beans separate); discard bone and shred pork.

Plus two sides that work GREAT with this dish:

Pico de Gallo

  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeds and juice removed, diced
  • 2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  1. Combine ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. NOTE: Prepare this as soon as you put the meat in the slow cooker, to give the ingredients a few hours to meld together.

Fried Plantains
NOTE: I bought a green plantain, and it took around 1 week to get to a firm-ripe stage.

  • 2 firm-ripe platains (yellow with black spots)
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  1. Slice plantain length-wise and peel away skin. Note: It does not peal away like a banana. Cut plantains in 1/4-inch pieces at a diagonal to create oval pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once it begins to sizzle, add in plantains.
  3. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from oil and place on a paper-towel lined plate. Sprinkle with salt.
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