Baked Sweet Potatoes with Slow Cooker Carnitas and Lazy Guacamole

It can be difficult to maintain a social life while on the autoimmune protocol. My friend Kelsi started a conversation on her Instagram post last night that reflected one of the major struggles many of us face who are on restrictive or healing diets.

She asked, “Have you had someone choose not to eat something in front of you they knew you couldn’t have?

My response was, “YES! And While I appreciate the thought behind the gesture, I always tell people that I’d rather them eat whatever they want or can. I remind them that I am making a choice to restrict certain foods based on my own needs, but I want them to feel comfortable eating whatever they want with me! Company > cuisine.

That being said, it is always nice to be able to sit down with someone and know that we are sharing a culinary experience. The easiest way to guarantee this for me is to cook for people. No one ever says no to someone else cooking for them (in my experience, at least). In fact, I’ve found that my friends and family enjoy it–not only because they don’t have to cook, but because they get a peek into what I eat on the daily. And I enjoy it because I get to share a piece of my life (and passion for cooking) with them. Win-win!

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I made this meal for a friend recently, then made it again for my mom the next day. It received rave reviews from both, and bonus: my mom and I were able to throw the leftover carnitas into everything the following week. My mom, who isn’t usually a huge fan of pork, kept requesting “that crispy, crunchy pork” all week.

I adapted the carnitas recipe from Juli at PaleOMG to make it in the crock-pot (she makes hers in the Instant Pot) and to make it AIP-compliant. Instead of sticking them under the broiler at the end like Juli recommends, I stored mine in a container in the fridge and crisped up however much I wanted to use on a skillet before serving.

This recipe also features the easiest way to get a perfectly baked, caramel-y, melty sweet potato. I’ve tried other methods, but I keep coming back to this one. It could be because it’s fool-proof and delicious, but it’s probably because it’s the easiest and I’m lazy. But seriously, check the above photo. Do you see how the sweet potato is glistening? That’s caramelization, folks. Sticky, sweet caramelization. So good.

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Baked Sweet Potatoes with Slow Cooker Carnitas and Lazy Guacamole

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs pork shoulder or butt
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dried oregano
1 white onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 bay leaves
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 cup chicken broth, bone broth, or water
1 tbsp olive oil

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 avocado
Juice of 1/4 lime
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup cilantro

Directions:

  1. Carnitas:
    1. Combine the first 9 ingredients (pork shoulder through chicken broth) in a slow cooker, taking care to make sure that the fat cap on the pork is facing up. Cook on low for 9 hours.
    2. Once 9 hours have passed, carefully lift the lid off the slow cooker and break apart the meat with a fork. It should fall apart easily. Additionally, remove the bay leaves from the slow cooker. At this point, you can transfer the pork into a container and, after it has cooled, store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. If doing so, only reserve enough liquid from the crock pot to cover the pork in the container; discard the rest of the liquid. 
    3. When ready to serve, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup shredded meat per person and distribute evenly throughout the skillet. Leave undisturbed and allow the meat to crisp up on bottom.
    4. After a few minutes, sauté the meat to redistribute, then allow to crisp up again. Do this until most of the meat has browned and is crispy.
  2. Sweet Potatoes
    1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
    2. Wash and dry sweet potatoes. Individually wrap each one in foil, then place into oven for 1 hour.
  3. Assembly
    1. Carefully cut open the sweet potatoes, gently smashing it down a little bit to create room for crispy carnitas goodness.
    2. To make the lazy guacamole, scoop the flesh out of the avocado and add in lime juice, garlic powder, and sea salt. Mash to combine.
    3. Top sweet potatoes with crispy carnitas, a generous scoop of guacamole, minced red onion, and cilantro.
    4. DEVOUR.

Notes:
-You could easily cook the carnitas and sweet potatoes ahead of time, them just reheat and assemble when you’re ready to eat.
-What to do with leftover carnitas? Crisp them up whenever you want to eat them, then use to top soups, salads, hashes, or even eat alongside some roasted or sautéed veggies for a delicious meal. They are incredibly versatile!
-If making this for more than 2 people, then just add in extra sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup of carnitas per person, and 1/2 avocado per person (adjusting guacamole ingredients as necessary).

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The textural contrast of the creamy sweet potato and guacamole with the crispy carnitas and crunchy red onions, plus the temperature contrast of warm sweet potato and carnitas with cool guacamole…I cannot. This meal has so much going for it. I hope you make it and enjoy as much as we have!

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2 Responses to Baked Sweet Potatoes with Slow Cooker Carnitas and Lazy Guacamole

  1. Brynn says:

    This looks amazing! Your pictures are awesome! Would you be interested in being my AIP penpal? I need help staying on the bandwagon and your pictures and posts are always inspiring.

    Also, you should totally look into getting an instant pot. Mine has made dinners a loooot easier (because of my lack of planning ahead and laziness 😉).

    • Pooja Parikh says:

      Hi Brynn, thank you so much! You are so incredibly kind. I would absolutely love to be AIP penpals. We can always use as much support as we can get. Send me an email at aipooja.p@gmail.com when you get a chance and we can get things started.

      And I know I’ll eventually bite the bullet and get an instant pot. I’ve wanted one for a while!

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