With the way the weather has been here in Texas, I wonder whether we'll ever have a true autumn this year. But the leaves are falling (the Dad and the Kid can attest to that - they spent part of the weekend raking and bagging ours) so it must be fall, right? Here's a fall-themed, weeknight-friendly twist on a Texas favorite - carnitas!
Autumnal Apple Carnitas
1 lb. pork loin, trimmed
2/3 cup + 1/4 cup unfiltered apple juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed and skinned
1/2 a large red onion, roughly chopped
1 cinnamon stick
3 canned chipotles en adobo
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup crushed
apple chips Fuji
1/4 cup dried cranberries
12 corn tortillas
queso fresco to taste
cilantro to taste
In a crockpot, add pork loin, apple juice, garlic cloves, onion, and cinnamon stick and cook on medium for about four hours or until pork is fork tender and easily pulled apart.
In a blender, combine apple sauce and chipotles and blend until smooth. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil and lightly roast ground cloves and pepper until fragrant. Add apple sauce and chipotle mixture and cook until color darkens slightly. Remove cooked pork from crock pot and shred, using two forks to pull pork apart. Add remaining 1/4 cup unfiltered apple juice to the sauce before adding the pulled pork, apple chips and dried cranberries. Stir to combine. Scoop into corn tortillas and garnish with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro before serving.
* Editor's note: I submitted this recipe to an apple-themed recipe contest - sadly, it did not win. But don't let that deter you - this smoky/spicy/sweet take on carnitas is worth making even if it's not prize-winning!