There isn’t a story behind these tacos. No memory I can conjour up when I bite into these perfect packages of meat, sauce and slaw. I just wanted something other than a pulled pork sandwich for dinner and this taco creation emerged.
When the weather is nice and we have the time, we always vote to smoke the pork butt. If the weather is bad, we use the crock pot or braise the pork. Braising is a type of cooking method in which you sear the meat at a high temperature, add liquid to cover the meat and simmer for a few hours.
Which ever method of cooking you choose for your pork butt or pork shoulder, I have a feeling these pork tacos will be at the top of your list for favorite tacos.
Let us begin with the PORK:
For this post, I leave you with instructions for how to braise the pork. If setting and forgetting is more your bag, simply season the whole pork with the dry rub and marinate the pork overnight. Do not cube the pork. Add a quartered onion, a cup of the marinating liquid and the whole pork to the crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Once the meat falls off the bone, the pork is done.
For braising, procure a 3-4 pound pork butt or pork shoulder, trim off the extra fat and cut into cubes.
2 tablespoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon of oregano, Mexican Oregano if you have it
Marinate the pork the night before you will serve the tacos.
In a small bowl, mix up all the dry ingredients.
Trim the pork of extra fat and cut into large cubes.
Massage the pork with the dry rub.
1 orange, cut into quarters and juiced
1 vidalia onion, cut into quarters
1 lime, juiced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
6 ounce can of pineapple juice
3/4 cup of soy sauce
1 cup of cola
3 teaspoons of cumin
In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.
Introduce the pork and the marinating liquid to each other in a large container with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator overnight.
PREPARATION TIP: This is a good time to make the creme and sauce for the slaw. Each can be stored in a tightly sealed container for several days. Don’t forget to sterlize your prep station before moving on to the next task.
COTIJA LIME CREME:
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of good quality mayonnaise
1/4 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of coriander
1 lime, zested and juiced
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup of Cotija or Queso Fresco cheese
In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
RED CABBAGE SLAW:
This recipe is a play on one I found in Bobby Flay’s Barbeque Addiction cookbook. He uses napa slaw and way to much red onion for my liking.
(Don’t worry Bobby, to much red onion isn’t a good enough reason for me to release you from my pantry.)
I prefer the red cabbage for these tacos. It makes for a prettier presentation. The sauce for this slaw can be made up to 4 days in advance
8-10 scallions, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
4 serrano peppers
1/4 cup of good quality mayonnaise
4 teaspoons of honey
1/2 cup of vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup of cold water
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup of cilantro leaves
1/2 a large head of red cabbage, sliced thin
2 large carrots, julliened
1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
1 cup of cotija or queso fresco cheese
Combine the scallions, vinegar, peppers, mayo, honey, vegetable oil and water in a blender. Blast that sucker to emulsify the dressing. Add salt, pepper and the cilantro to the blender. Pulse the blender a few times.
At this point, if you are not ready to serve your tacos, simply transfer the dressing to a tightly sealed container and place it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can dress the slaw a few hours before serving. Don’t forget to add the cotija or queso fresco cheese to the final slaw mixture.
PREPARATION TIP: While you are prepping the sauces and marinating the pork ahead of time, why not cut up your veggies too. This task can be done the night before. Then dinner time is all about taco assembly.
BRAISING THE PORK:
Remove the pork and oranges from the marinade. Toss the oranges in the trash, but set the marinade aside. You will add the marinade to the Dutch oven as the braising liquid.
Heat a Dutch oven on high heat to melt 3/4 cup of vegetable shortening or lard.
Once the shortening starts to smoke, add the pork. Turn the pork a few times to brown all sides. Don’t crowd the pot. If you need to, work in batches to brown the meat.
Once the pork is browned, slowly pour the marinade into the Dutch oven, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the tasty bits from the searing.
Cook for about 2 hours, uncovered. After about 1 1/2 hours, check occasionally for doneness. You are looking for the pork to fall apart when you stick a fork in it.
Remove the pork from the liquid.
PREPARATION TIP: Cooked pork is very freezer friendly. If you have leftovers, simply store in a freezer bag for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator over night.
TACO CONSTRUCTION INSTRUCTION:
Flour Tortillas or corn, your preference
Cotija Lime Creme
Red Cabbage Slaw
Heat up the tortillas. You can do this several different ways. If you have a gas range, as I do, turn one section on low and toss a tortilla over top of the grate for a few seconds. Use a pair of tongs to check the underside for burning and then flip for a few more seconds. Don’t walk away from the stove during this processes!!
Heat up a heavy pan or flat top and toss on a a few tortillas until your desired crisp tenderness.
When feeding a large group, wrap the tortillas in foil and pop them in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.
Add the cotija lime creme to the bottom of the tortilla.
Add the pork and the red cabbage slaw.
Sprinkle on some more cotija or queso fresco cheese and then ravage that taco.