Vegan Slow Cooker Soy Curl Carnitas

Carnitas is a traditional Mexican dish, which translates as "little meats" in English.  It is generally made from braising pork for three to four hours.  Towards the end of cooking, the heat is turned up and the outside of the meat is crisped.  It is then shredded and served with tortillas or rice.

Because this is a vegan recipe and not a meat recipe, I had to think about how to create moisture, flavor, and that satisfying crisp on the outside of the soy curl.  While it takes a bit of time to shred soy curls, it provides a visual impact that is more akin to traditional carnitas.  It also makes it easier for the marinade to add flavor, and makes it easier to crisp in the oven before serving.  It's worth the time to sit down with some hydrated soy curls in a collinder and shred them to bits into a slow cooker.  

If you don't have time to shred or broil in the oven, this is still a fantastic marinade.  It tastes even better the next day.  When it's time to eat, enjoy it on tortillas, over rice, or on loaded nachos. Cover it in cilantro-lime slaw, avocados, vegan cheese, lime juice.  

  Hydrated soy curls. Ready to shred.

Hydrated soy curls. Ready to shred.

Vegan Slow Cooker Soy Curl Carnitas

1 8 oz bag of soy curls

1 large onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 ½ tsp dried oregano

1 ½ tsp smoked paprika

2 ½ tsp cumin

½ tsp chili powder

½-1 tsp crushed red pepper

juice of 1 orange + 1 quarter of the rind

juice of 1 lime + half of the rind

2 ½ cubes fake chicken bouillon

3 cups water

olive oil

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1. Empty soy curls into a bowl, cover with water and wait ten minutes.  Drain the water, and  shred the soy curls into a slow cooker.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker, including the rind of both the orange and the lime.  Give it a stir, and cook on HIGH for 4 hours.

2. Set your oven broiler on HIGH.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.  Use a slotted spoon to drain the soy curls, and spread them on the cookie sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle olive oil over the soy curls.  Place in the broiler for ~5-7 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.

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3. Remove from the oven and serve with cilantro-lime slaw (see below), avocado, lime, cilantro, vegan sour cream, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese or any combination you enjoy on a taco.

Cilantro-Lime Slaw

1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced

½ cup carrots, julienned

⅓ cup cilantro, chopped

2-3 scallions, chopped

½ Tbsp agave

Juice of ½-1 lime

Dash of salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Adjust taste, and serve on tacos or as a side.

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