Cinco de Mayo is coming up! If you're looking for a fun party recipe, you've come to the right place. I had been seeing pictures all over Pinterest of little taco cups, and while those sounded fun, they were a bit too simple for me. So I took them up a notch by making pork carnitas in the slow cooker and then crafting mini pork carnitas bites.
I broke out the All-Clad slow cooker I got at my bridal shower to make the pork carnitas. The slow cooker has an insert that can go right on the stove. It was amazing to not have to dirty a separate pan and do my searing and pre-cooking right in the slow-cooker insert.
Once the pork was ready, I shredded it all up. Then I lined a mini muffin tin with cut-up egg roll wraps (you can also use wonton wraps), stuffed the cups with pork, sprinkled cheese on top, and cooked them until the wraps browned and the cheese melted. I served these with bowls of pico de gallo and guacamole.
The recipe makes a lot of pork, so I've written it so you can decide how many pork carnitas bites you want to make. Any leftover pork can be used in tacos or even sandwiches.
Pork Carnitas Bites
(carnitas recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 (3- to 4-pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Mexican lager-style beer (like Modelo)
Grated zest and juice from 1 orange
Grated zest and juice from 1 lime
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Wonton wraps or egg roll wraps
Shredded Mexican cheese blend
Pico de gallo (optional)
Combine 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Rub the pork generously with the salt and pepper mixture.
Pour off all but a thin layer of fat from the slow-cooker insert. Add the onion and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the beer, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of insert with a wooden spoon. Remove the insert from the heat. (If using a skillet, transfer onion and beer mixture to slow cooker insert.) Set the pork on top of the onion and beer mixture. Combine the orange juice and zest, lime juice and zest, and oregano and pour over the pork.
Set the insert in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 5 hours (or on low for 10 hours).
Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Pour the cooking liquid through a fat separator, and set aside.
Cut and shred the pork using a fork and knife or two forks. Place the shredded pork in a large bowl and stir the onion mixture (or some of it) into the pork, if desired. Stir in some of the defatted cooking liquid as well -- just a few spoonfuls to moisten the pork.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray. If using egg rolls wraps, cut them to fit the muffin cups. Press egg roll wrap pieces or wonton wraps into muffin cups. (Make as many as you'd like.)
Fill each wrap with shredded pork. Top the pork with shredded cheese.
Bake until wraps have browned and cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes (timing could vary depending how many you're making).
Carefully transfer cups to serving platter.
Serve (with pico de gallo and guacamole, if desired).
These little bites are a lot of fun and great for crowds. You can make as many or as few as you'd like. The pork is super flavorful on its own, but a little homemade pico de gallo or guacamole spruces these up in both flavor and appearance.
Are you making anything special for Cinco de Mayo?