Here's an easy stewed-pork recipe that's nicely different from, say, Chile Verde, but in the same ballpark. The orange and lime accents are what makes it distinctive. This is a crock pot recipe, but it isn't a cook-all-day affair - it can be ready to eat in as little as four hours. I like to use a package of pork shoulder strips instead trimming and cutting a big ol' pork shoulder, but I have a small crock pot. If you've got a capacious slow-cooker you can can go whole hog if you like.

First you make a spice paste to coat the meat and let it 'marinate' for an hour or so, then you layer the meat and onion into the crock pot, then you let it cook, with a stir mid-way through.

Main Ingredients:
  • 4-5 lbs. pork shoulder, fat trimmed somewhat and cut into 2"-3" cubes
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 orange
  • limes for juicing, or bottled lime juice
Spice Paste:
  Dry Items
  • 5-10 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder (not hot)
  • 2 dried bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest (from the orange)
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice (from the orange)
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
Combine the dry items in a large bowl and grind together a bit with a pestle or sturdy shot glass.
Add the liquids and mix into a coarse paste.
Add the cubed pork to the bowl and mix by hand to coat the pork pieces. Set aside.

When ready to cook the dish, slice the peeled onions into thick discs (1/4") and then cut the discs into quarters*, keeping the wedges mostly intact.
Lay enough wedges in the bottom of the crock pot to make an even layer and add a couple of ounces of water or broth.
Layer about half of the pork on the onions, then add the rest of the onions in a layer, then the rest of the pork.
Splash a little water or broth into the bowl to loosen any remaining spice paste and pour on top of the pork.
Cover the crock pot and turn it on 'High' and cook for 4-6 hours.
(I usually put the crock pot outside or in the garage when cooking this dish - the garlic and onions can pervade a small unventilated space pretty quickly.)

Stir gently after cooking to mix the pork and onions.
Serve over rice, or rice and beans, or even quinoa.

At 4 hours the pork pieces will still hold their shape well in large chunks; with longer cook times the meat will fall apart more when stirred but the flavor won't change much beyond 4 hours. Ultimately this means that the cook time you choose depends on the presentation and texture you want.

Adding a shot of regular orange juice (i.e. Minute Maid or Sunny Delight) after cooking can really brighten the citrus aspect, but be careful. Sometimes I'll add a poblano or bell pepper in 1/2" dice with the onions for a little color and flavor. If you like it hot you can add a tiny sprinkle of cayenne pepper to the spice paste, but I've found that spicy-heat too easily overwhelms the subtler flavors of the dish.

This is also good served burrito-style if well-drained first.

* The original recipe leaves the onion-discs whole. I find that makes for sloppy eatin'.

Adapted from Los Angeles Times Food section, 2/25/09

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