My Favorite Slow Cooker Burritos

Burritos are one of my favorite comfort foods. Growing up in Texas it was always easy to find good Tex-Mex, but now that I live in New York I’m pretty much stuck making my own. But with a recipe this easy and tasty, I don’t even mind! Since I use a slow cooker, there’s very little cleanup, and this recipe is really easy to adapt to your own tastes and what you have lying around the kitchen. Heck, you don’t even need a slow cooker; I’ll tell you how to get the same results in the oven and on the stovetop. So feel free to experiment!

  • 1 approx 2-3 lb boneless pork shoulder or loin
  • 2 cups (16 oz) beef stock
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • juice of 1/2 orange (or just add a splash of OJ)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (I like the Old El Paso version) or mix of Mexican seasonings
  • salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes (optional), cilantro* (optional), any other seasonings you like

Sprinkle the pork with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders, and any other seasonings you like, and add a tiny amount of water to the pot so the meat doesn’t burn. Cook it in the preheated slow cooker until the center temp reaches at least 160-165 degrees. Depending on the thickness of the pork, it should take about 2-3 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low. (If you have a fancy temperature probe, use it! It’ll automatically switch the setting to Warm once the meat reaches the preset temperature.) Remove the pork to a cutting board and drain all the fat and liquid left behind. Let sit until it’s cool enough to handle, then shred the pork with a fork or rip it apart by hand. Discard as much of the fat as possible.

While the pork cools, mix together the stock, tomato sauce, orange juice, taco seasoning, and whatever other seasonings you like in the slow cooker and set to Low. Add back in the shredded pork, and cook until heated through. (The sauce is pretty thin; adding some flour or corn starch would probably help that but I always forget.) Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas and whatever other toppings you like – sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, etc. Depending on how large the cut of pork you get is and how hungry you are, you can probably get 4-6 servings from this recipe. You can easily double it with a large crock pot. I usually make yellow rice as a side dish; it’s fantastic if you pour some of the extra sauce on it!

Suggested variations:

  • Substitute chicken or turkey breasts or thighs for pork, and use chicken stock instead of beef stock. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 180-185; check your manufacturer’s recommended cook time.
  • Substitute beef for pork. Depending on the cut, the cook times could vary pretty drastically, so check your manufacturer’s recommended cook time or do a quick online search. Skirt steak would probably work very well, but you could experiment with roasts as well. Cook to at least medium so that the beef is easily shreddable.
  • If you don’t have a slow cooker, bake the pork at 350Ëš for approximately 20 minutes per pound, then make the sauce in a large pot on the stove.
  • If you want spicy, try adding salsa or taco sauce in place of the tomato sauce.
  • Saute onions, garlic, bell peppers, or other veggies in the slow cooker before making the sauce. You could probably make the dish vegetarian by skipping the meat entirely and using veg stock. (You might not want to use the entire package of taco seasoning unless you make a lot of veggies or it will be spicy!)
  • If you buy canned stock, the 14.5 oz size is fine. And tomato paste instead of sauce works fine too. We’re flexible here, remember!

*Before anyone gives me grief about cilantro, let me explain: I know some of you hate it. Despise, really. Want to burn all evidence of its existence off the planet. But it’s not your fault. You just lost the genetic lottery. So I will not insist you use it, but I include it for those of us with lucky genes. And weep for what you are missing.

This post originally appeared on Persephone Magazine on October 25, 2011.

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