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OMIGOD - The Most Amazing Pork in the Crock-Pot!!!!

I have to tell you, I was not prepared for what wound up coming out of my slow-cooker on Monday night. I had my hopes, but I honestly didn't know what to expect.

I'd read about the "unctuousness" of well-made carnitas - and that's not even what I was trying to do.

Anyhow, it was really, really simple. I took two pork picnic roasts (shoulders, with the skin still on), about 3.5lbs each. I separated the skin from the meat, but left it on, rubbed the skin with salt and pepper, then seared them in a skillet.

I let them cool a bit, then rubbed cumin, garlic powder (I was somehow out of fresh garlic) and Penzey's Adobo seasoning on the outside and under the skin.

I then put them in my slow-cooker, with a couple of roughly chopped onions, and a cup of chicken broth in the bottom.

The next morning, I set them up, put them on the low, 10-hour setting, and let it go.

When I got home, I pulled them out, carefully, put them in the oven under the broiler to crisp up the skin, and separated the fat from the juices, ultimately reducing the juice for a pan-sauce.

I wish I'd held onto the fat, as it would have been amazing for making other things (like my roasted cauliflower last night).

But what I'd put in the slow cooker was transformed into this luscious, unctuous, amazing dish.

It's a keeper.

- Andrew Langer

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  1. Sounds delicious! I don't have adobo seasoning, maybe a trip to Penzey's is in order. I'm high on pork shoulder these days and will try your recipe next time I find them on sale.
    What did you serve with it?

    Thanks for telling us about it.

    1. My thanks as well. I plan to make this in short order. I haven't used my slow cooker that much because I, like you, prefer to do the prep the night before but the actual slow cooking the day of. I just haven't been sure how to manage that. Did you place the seared meat in the slow cook pot in the fridge overnight? I would love some tactical direction. I worry about the hot to cold and cold to hot issues, not knowing anything about chemistry.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rockridgechow

        I often sear my meat the night before, pop it in the fridge, and throw it in the crock pot in the morning. Some dishes I even stick the crock in the fridge overnight (eg. meat, liquid, chopped onions). I just try to take the crock out first thing in the morning so it has a chance to warm up a bit before I stick it in the base. Haven't cracked a crock yet. Knock on wood.

      2. I'm wondering about the part of the recipe where you put the ingreds in the slow cooker....then you say "Next morning" you set them up and cook for 10 hours. Is the pork and onion sitting in the pot all night with no heat? Is something missing here?

        The recipe sounds fabulous otherwise.

        4 Replies
        1. re: oakjoan

          Yes - Monday tends to be my slow-cooker day, because I can easily do the prep work on Sunday nights (and use the pre-prepared food for Monday's and probably Wednesday's dinner).

          Whenever I'm doing something in the slow-cooker, as I'm making Sunday's dinner, I also do my searing, chopping, arranging, etc. I put it all in the pot, and then put it in the fridge for starting before I leave for work on Monday.

          1. re: Langrrr

            Wondering your thoughts..... I have a frozen 5lb "half picnic fresh roast". I often (due to my inability to "plan ahead") do my defrosting of meat by placing it in frequently changed cold water. This recipe sounds perfect for surprise visitors coming for dinner - so cold water is filling the sink as I type! Wondering what are some thoughts on placing a frozen roast into the slow cooker - especially considering this roast is on the larger size? I know....I know..... Lots of controversy about this topic, and I know BOTH methods are definitely not the PREFERRED way of defrosting. ( I don't want to start a frenzy here!) Just curious if I should stick to my sink method or just toss it in the crockpot for a longer time?
            Also, my roast does not appear to have this BEAUTIFUL thick layer of skin, (that has caused my mouth to begin watering at 7:30am, :'( ) BUT, I do see a beautiful thick layer of fat. Once defrosted (by either method mentioned above), how can I get the "cracklin'" effect without skin, but fat layer only? Will pan searing work, or should I use the broiler method for a better result? In addition, considering any of the many wonderful rubs mentioned, without that thick layer of skin-should a rub be applied before or after the searing? Is it a good idea, or is it even possible, to lift the fat layer to apply any rub?
            Thank you for a wonderful recipe and any input you have!

            1. re: nsand415

              -- you should thaw the roast completely -- otherwise the outside is overcooked and dry while the inside is undercooked and tough.

              -- you are not ever, ever going to have crispy skin in the slow cooker. Not ever. You could get browned fat in the oven, but not ever in the slow cooker.

              -- searing a dry rub will result in burned-bitter spices

              -- you want to leave the fat cap intact.

              1. re: sunshine842

                She is defrosted, pan seared and in the cooker now. thank you for your input!

        2. That sounds yummy. Only a cup of liquid for all that meat? Do you have to turn it? How does the meat above broth cook? Do you cook it on "Low"? I could go for some carnitas.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Wanda Fuca

            My slow-cooker, and I think other slow-cookers as well, can be used as slow-roasters. Check your directions. In point of fact, no liquid was really needed for this. My manufacturer recommended it for the sauce it makes.

            I cooked it on the ultra-low setting (10 hours). No turning was necessary.

            If you think about it, the picnic shoulder is an oblong shaped piece of port, with a wide end and a skinny end (all wrapped in pork skin). I arranged the two shoulders with the wide-end facing down, so that it tapers toward the top.

            The shoulder itself bastes in the pork-fat which renders from under the skin.

          2. Although you probably won't die from anything that would grow at room temperature overnight, I'd be nervous about even the possibility. Put the ingredients in a plastic bag or container in the fridge overnight and then in the slow-cooker in the morning.

            Wanda - cooking with just a little liquid (i.e., braising) produces more concentrated flavors than stewing. Remember that a lot of liquid comes out of the meat, particularly if it's a "commercial" pork shoulder, which has lots of water injected into it. For much, much more, go to the wonderful Egullet course on braising, beginning at http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...

            3 Replies
            1. re: KRS

              Yes - I guess I left out the fact that I put the slow-cooker pot in the fridge after doing the prep work on Sunday night.

              1. re: KRS

                well, right... youd have to refrigerate it over-night, but remember, this will be cooking for 10 hours- theres no way any beasties would live through that.

                1. re: bastet212

                  The beasties make heat stable toxins that can make you just as sick as live organisms---all they need is time to grow before cooking which is why you don't thaw meat on the counter--- the original poster put it in the fridge and so should you.

              2. Actually, I don't think we served anything (diet, circumstances, etc).

                But I'd serve any of the following:

                - rice, either white or yellow or mexican
                - tortillas
                - some sort of cabbage dish

                - Andrew Langer

                1 Reply
                1. What kind of crockpot did you use? I find the newer ones cook too hot. I find that my crockpot (a Rival) cooks way too hot, even at the "Low" setting to cook anything for 10 hours. It has a "Keep Warm" setting, but it's probably too low for cooking.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kiyah

                    They do cook hotter than the older crockpots, to avoid lawsuits. Try looking for the older crockpots (from at least 10-15 years ago?) at yard sales. I have a large(r) older one, and a new small one. The small one is only used when I'm home to start something at noon and it's done by 5-6pm....the older one I'll use when I can put something in first thing in the morning before leaving for work @ 8am and take out when I'm home around 6pm.

                  2. andrew- i'm going to get a slow cooker as soon as you tell us which kind you have.

                    suggestion: trader joe's has a Mojito simmer sauce in a jar-which is perfect for this use- in place of stock, and no need for a rub. amazing flavors- lime and orange juice, garlic, onion, cumin etc.

                    1. Lots of good points have been raised here. Crock Pot Braised Pork is fantastic. You can also render lard and broth, as in below.

                      I do the following three cuts in the crockpot.
                      Pork butt/aka shoulder, pork steak (upper shoulder), and picnic shoulder (foreleg) also does great in the crock pot. From your (Langrrr's) description of "oblong" and "taper", it sounds like your cut was lower shoulder and upper foreleg, called in my area "picnic shoulder."

                      Pork butt/Pork shoulder (the "upper" shoulder with clavicle) is more commonly on sale ($1.39 this week) in loss-leader ads. "Pork Steak" is simply cross-sections of pork butt, also on sale ($.99 this week). The butt-cuts are usually (always?) skinless. Pork "picnic shoulder" has the advantage of being sold with the skin intact, for those good cracklin's. It also has a higher percent of fat and bone per pound.

                      I use any of these cuts for crock Roast, a la Langrrr's above method.

                      When I make pork ramen soup broth and also render some lard, I use Picnic shoulder, and have the butcher use a band saw to cut it into 2" slices, to expose the cross-section of the bone. These go into the crock, with a cup or more of water, UNspiced at first (the meat can be spiced later... a slight trade-off, but the broth and lard should be spice free). After 8-10 hours on low, remove meat and pull the meat chunks from bone. Remove skin at your discretion; mine goes back in the lard pot, along with the bones and a recharge of hot water. Use meat for other recipes at supper (taste it unspiced to see just how good pork can stand on its own). Continue to heat crock (at high now) to render until bedtime, at which time refrigerate the crock. Next day, the cold lard can be lifted of the top. The ramen base will be thick with collagen.

                      As for "temperature of crock too high", they have indeed raised the temp to avoid the lawsuits from the "get the product to 140 in less than 2 hours" rule. Presto, and maybe other manufacturers, sells a variable temp control crockpot that can be fired up to act as a deep fryer when the crock liner is removed, with readable temperature increments. Here's the link at amazon:


                      1. yum sounds awesome. i love anything with adobo seasoning. my puerto rican friends turned me onto that. apparently they put it on everyyyyyything.

                        1. Made this on Friday, it was delicious. Served it with rice. I made so much I thought we'd have it for lunch over the weekend but it was all eaten up before lunch the next day!

                          We really enjoyed it, thank you for posting.

                          1. Sound amazing! Planning on trying it this weekend when my family comes into town.

                            1. On a different note, where can I find adobo seasoning?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: JoLi

                                The OP is probably refering to a dry rub but in the aisle of every hispanic section is Dona Maria Adobo paste.

                              2. What are the ingredients in that adobo seasoning you used?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: niki rothman

                                  Penzeys lists the following ingredients in their adobo seasoning: garlic, onion, Tellicherry black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin and cayenne red pepper. No salt.

                                2. Thanks for a great report! I almost always skip the broiler step because I'm
                                  so anxious to dig in, but that's the crucial step that takes it from "really good"
                                  to "wow wow wow".

                                  Crockpots are great but I do the same thing with a dutch oven and a 250 degree
                                  oven and ten hours. No need for extra equipment if you've already got an oven
                                  and a covered stewpot big enough for a pork shoulder.

                                  1. Justed wanted to post to say thank you for the recipe. I actually made this and brought it to Thanksgiving at my friend's. Not traditional thanksgiving dish, but still was a hit with my friends.

                                    I didn't have a adobo seasoning, so I mixed the ingredients listed, and worked out great. I also added chipotles in my crock pot before cooking it overnight.


                                    1. joli,
                                      yeah , chipotles. can't go wrong there!

                                      1. I'm going to try making this over the weekend, sounds like it would be great as a taco-type filling. To the OP, or whoever else can help, was the roast bone-in? Could I use a boneless roast similarly? Thanks!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Angel Food

                                          I bought a bone in pork shoulder. However, I couldn't fit the whole thing so I just cut off the meat and used the bone for a soup.

                                        2. As good as Andrew says it is!!! I added a 1/2 tsp cinnamon and it brings it to true Mexican Carnitas flavor! I served it over pinto beans topped w/ queso fresco and tortillas on the side! Wow! Enjoy!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: jendino

                                            This sounds amazing. AMAZING, and I might add it to the Thanksgiving turkey also! Thanks for this idea!

                                            I've been using Goya adobo powder for years --a little sprinkle enhances every single thing. It's readily available in the ethnic aisle of your supermarket.

                                            1. re: jendino

                                              Thinking about making this tomorrow. I have the shoulder rubbed with adobo and other seasoning, gonna sear soon, then let sit overnight with rub plus green chilies, smashed garlic, and salsa verde, then will place over chopped onions in some broth and turn crockpot on low before work, check at lunch, etc.

                                              I soaked some beans last night and was thinking about adding them underneath the meat at around noon or 1, would this work do you think? Serving with corn and flour tortillas, the beans, maybe some saffron rice. Any last minute hints/thoughts? Would be beans be ok on low for four hours (I know I used to make baked beans on low in a crockpot with hamhocks for hours on end)? Don't want anything to dry out.

                                              1. re: Dax

                                                I've had bad luck trying to cook dried beans on low. They do just fine on high, to.

                                                1. re: Sharuf

                                                  The beans were a little mushy, as was the pork (it basically turned into a pork stew which was good but nowhere near carnitas) but both were likely from cooking too long, on low or otherwise. I'll try this again, but next time I will serve with the cilantro rice.

                                            2. I'm making this as I type. Sounds great and very easy, although I don't have the adobo seasoning - next time. My slow cooker runs a little high, I don't think it will need the full 10 hours. Thank you for sharing.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: msobrien

                                                This is what I love about CH, a 2 year old thread still resonates!

                                                1. re: Tee

                                                  Heck yeah, I'm about to go pull my shoulder out of the pot right now. Yum.

                                              2. Made this yesterday - absolutely perfect. Didn't have adobo seasoning so rubbed with garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and sumac. Used a cup of water instead of chicken broth as well, as I didn't have any stock on hand and I'm currently boycotting Campbell's. :)

                                                Reduced juices with onions still in it, stirred a little corn starch slurry in, then finished with a squirt of Sriracha, simply because I finish *everything* with a little squirt of Sriracha.

                                                My guests literally raved about the results. Thanks for posting, it'll be a go-to recipe of mine from now on.

                                                1. Sounds awesome. I am going to try it this week! Very cool that this post is 2+ years old, glad Darrin commented on it or I would have never found it.

                                                  1. Well, now this post is a few days shy of 4 years old and I stumbled upon it.. Just seared my butt.. Don't know why I've never thought to do that to anything but cow.. Hmmm.. Anyway, it's in the crock and my mouth is already watering at 8:15 AM.. I'm grateful for the posts regarding cooking time.. Think I'll start checking on the 6 hour mark.. Thanks Langrrr and all others..

                                                    1. I am going to bring it back to life again... Having friends for dinner over the weekend and I want to cook a pork shoulder but I will not be home midday and I do not want it to be in the oven in an empty apartment. I think I am going to try it with 'porchetta' seasonings. Thank you!

                                                      1. Resurrecting as well. In the crock pot now. Options are 4 & 6 - high and 8 & 10 low. I think I should have used low 8, but it's too late! So, we are at 6 high. Seared pieces in sliced garlic tainted EVOO. Didn't rub spices, just did a good toss in a bowl with teensy, teensy bit of cinnamon, little bit of coriander, more of cumin and onion powder + lil bit o'pepper. Placed in cooker then added a cup of broth, the slices of garlic and a two quartered shallots on top. (I didn't want left over onion in my fridge.) Ooh, also not really sure what my cut of meat is. "Country style ribs" 1.5 lbs. Cross your fingers for me!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: dancehound

                                                          Another bump! For pulled park sliders for a graduation party.

                                                        2. OK, I'm extending / prolonging your fame -- I made this recipe this week, and it was really really GOOD. Be SURE and run the cooked pork under the broiler -- I broke my roast up into 4 pieces, and broiled it at 400 degrees for 20 min, turning about every 5 min or so. That is the BEST part: those crispy browned bits! Maybe next time I should break it up into 6 pieces or so. I think if they are bite size chunks the meat could dry out...I squeezed 1/3 of a lime over the top after shredding it up.

                                                          I served it with an easy, good recipe for Spanish Rice: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-spa... -- which was perfect for using up the opened fresh salsa I had hanging around.

                                                          Excellent recipe, thank you!

                                                          1. Honestly I am a 'real' cook too when I have the time & inclination, but you can dump just about any seasoning in the crock pot on low with a pork shoulder and get something good to eat. No browning required if you don't have time. It's the best cut I've found for the slow cooker thus far. We use the leftovers for all kinds of things too (there's been a couple of threads about that too). It's pretty economical protein.
                                                            I'm so glad fat is being redeemed!