But, if I was still a kid I wouldn't have the palate that I do or the desire and capability to cook. My mom was (and still is) an awesome cook, but I had zero interest in cooking or "good" food back in the day. Stock me up with Spaghettio's with meatballs and Ramen noodles and I was one happy kid. That's truth y'all. Not that mom let me eat that stuff as my normal diet, but as I became a teen and fixed food for myself while home alone, those were my preferred options. I guess it's a good thing for my health and for J that I've come a looong way since my teen years. I mean a bowl of Ramen still hits the spot now and then, but it's very rare that one of those little packages makes it's way into my grocery cart. Let's move on to what's more common in my kitchen these days...
Um, hello yummy salad!!
Bright, pretty, delicious, healthy salad!! I actually had put this on the menu two or three times before I actually got around to making it. To be honest, I think I made the carnitas for it once, but never got the salad part made. That's a shame, I tell ya. I mean, the carnitas are good for lots of things (tacos, sliders, etc.) but I reaaaaallly wanted this salad. And for good reason. It's freaking delicious!! As usual for my opinion, the dressing is what really makes it. I mean...all the components are good, but the dressing is the "icing on the cake" so-to-speak.
Crisp salad greens, crisp veggies, soft carnitas and cheese...drenched in a citrus-y chipotle dressing. Yep. I'll take that over my formerly beloved Ramen any ol' day. Wouldn't you?? I knew we were friends for a reason.
Carnitas Salad with Citrus Chipotle Dressing
Slightly Adapted from Back to the Cutting Board
For the carnitas
- 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup orange juice
For the dressing
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 2 large limes)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 to 3 tsp honey
- 1 large clove garlic
- 2 to 4 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the salad
- 3 cups baby spring mix
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup shredded (matchstick) carrots
- 1 avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese and/or Monterrey Jack Cheese
- Place the pork shoulder in your crockpot, sprink the seasonings on top and then pour in the orange juice. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or high for 3-4 hours. Once done, shred with two forks while still in the crockpot, or remove to a stand mixer and shred with the paddle attachment, on medium speed. Set aside while you prepare the salad and dressing.
- To make the dressing, combine the orange and lime juices, olive oil, 1 teaspoon of honey, garlic and 2 chipotle peppers. Process until smooth. Taste and add more honey or chipotles to reach your desired sweetness/heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, place a handful of salad mix in each bowl, then top with warm carnitas, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, avocado and cheese. Drizzle (or douse) dressing on top and devour - immediately!