When you go gluten-free, there are only a handful of fast food restaurants that you can eat at and really enjoy without feeling rotten. Chipotle is one of my favorite places and has been our go-to spot for a quick to-go dinner on busy weeknights for delicious gluten-free dishes. As I went to plug in our usual order this week though, I discovered there was a supplier issue of our family favorite…carnita meat isn’t at our location.
To be honest, I had a sneaking suspicion that this was eating away at our budget (thanks to its delicious convenience & a handsome Chipotle runner at my disposal) so I had been thinking of recreating this dish at home to save our family some money.
Necessity birthed creativity as I went on the hunt for a yummy replacement.
It seems fitting since our focus is money management this month for the m challenge that I could break a fast food habit with this yummy homemade alternative. Money. In. The. Bank.
This meat couldn’t be easier to create and the best part is that once you rub in the spices, this is a completely hands-off recipe. What isn’t easier is how freaking good it smells in your slow cooker all day which drove us absolutely crazy until dinnertime. The combination of spices is delicious, complex, and comprised mostly of ingredients I already had in my pantry. Garlic, red chili pepper, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, orange juice, lime juice, and beer.
I love the burrito bowl and making it couldn’t be easier. I just did a layer of brown rice made in my rice cooker (world’s best invention- here is the one I use for less than $25), a layer of black beans (canned or slow cooker homemade Mexican Black Beans), carnita meat, mozzarella cheese, diced tomatoes, and I do a mean scoop of plain greek yogurt with a dash of salt, and a squeeze of lime. Serve this giant bowl up with tortilla chips for scooping and you are done.
Since this makes such a large amount of meat, I divided and freezed it for our month. No more Chipotle runs (averaging $22 per pop) and leftovers for a week of meals? Um. WINNING.
What was even better was that everyone in our family thought these were better than Chipotle. I was hoping to just have a nice substitution on days where we need to save a little, but now carnitas at home are better than the ones we bought out and we save a lot of money in the process.
I hope you can give these a try too!
Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Carnitas
Recipe Type: Slow Cooker
Author: Slightly Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Carnitas just like Chipotle for a fraction of the price. Serve as a burrito or bowl and enjoy the savings!
- 4-5 lbs. pork shoulder
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (optional- we left it out because we are wimps)
- juice of 2 limes
- ½ cup orange juice
- 12 ounces gluten-free beer
- ½ cup salsa (I used a garlic salsa from ALDI- feel free to experiment with your flavors)
- Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Roughly chop the garlic and rub it all over the pork (top and bottom)
- Sprinkle the meat with salt, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne. Rub seasonings onto the pork until they are well incorporated.
- Add lime juice, orange juice, beer, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Shred meat with two forks directly in the slow cooker (or take out, shred, and replace in sauce). It should fall apart easily.
- Remove the meat and put into a serving bowl, pouring some of the drippings over the top to moisten the meat.
- Serve with tortillas, tortilla chips, or as a rice bowl (instructions above)