This taco meat is a staple in our house because it is delicious and probably one of the easiest thing you will ever cook (thanks to the slow cooker). Despite only having three ingredients this constantly receives rave reviews from guests and is a personal favorite of ours.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 4+ hours on high, 8+ hours on low
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
• Meat (Pork or Chicken, typically) - These are great leftover too so better more than less.
• Salsa (Moderately Chunky) - Amount varies based on size of the slow cooker but you will need to almost cover the meat. For two about a 1/3-1/2 a 24oz jar up to 1+ jars for 6-8. Typically I use Pace Picante or equivalent but have used others with equal success.
• Brown Sugar - 1/4-1/3 cup for two servings. You probably don't need to ever exceed 1 cup unless you are doing a truly huge batch. This is the "secret" ingredient that takes the meat to the next level. Brown sugar plays particularly well with heat so don't be afraid to go spicy with your salsa.
I've never actually measured these quantities since slow cooking doesn't require the attention to quantities that baking does, so adjust to taste. Not included are your favorite taco garnishes, I suggest trying lime juice, raw onion, and cilantro.
• Slow Cooker - I use a smaller one for 4 servings or less and the full size for anything more.
Step 2: Prepare
This hardly deserves it's own step since all you do is toss the meat in to the slow cooker and cover it with the salsa and brown sugar.
Step 3: Cook
Typically I cook this dish all day, putting it in on low when I leave for work in the morning, stirring and chunking it up when I get home and serving it for dinner.
If you are leaving it all day then the low heat is fine, but if you need to get it done in 3-6 hours then thaw the meat first and use the high setting. You know the meat is done when it falls apart with very little force and once it reaches this point it can stay in the pot on the Warm setting for quite a bit longer with sporadic stirring.
On occasion we've even cooked these the day before a large function and reheated in the slow-cooker the day of.
If you're working with pork and have a little extra time I highly recommend transferring the shredded pork to a skillet with a little hot oil and crisping it up a touch like a more traditional Carnitas. The caramelization of the brown sugar just kicks it up a notch. This is also how we prepare all the leftovers. We've even do it to pork that wasn't initially made for tacos.
Step 4: Enjoy!
Make sure you have extra napkins on hand because these tacos drip a lot of juice. That's how you know they're good.
Serve with your normal compliment of taco toppings. For a great street taco style use small corn tortillas, diced onion, lime, and cilantro but they are also great with all the fixings in a big shell. If you are going to serve these with cheese I highly recommend freshly shredded sharp cheddar.