Sometimes you just crave a taco, and if you’re Zach or I, you crave tacos at least once or twice a week. We’ve tackled the fish taco, which is always a winner. We’ve also outdone ourselves with a buffalo chicken taco that was absolutely to die for, but we love buffalo chicken, so of course we almost died for it. We’ve deconstructed tacos (or enchiladas, but whose keeping track) and made a sweet potato tostada, but we have had yet to whip up a pulled pork taco. Oh, and then there’s the duck taco, that could be just around the corner because I forgot how much we love duck, but anyway…I didn’t just want an everyday BBQ pulled pork taco. I wanted a Mexican-style taco packed full of sweet and spiciness. In this recipe, I took your traditional BBQ pulled pork taco and took the BBQ right out of it. I wasn’t mad about it, and neither was Zach. I’m just happy that there is enough left over to have it for a second night!
I know I say this a lot, but tacos are so simple and so affordable. If it’s just the two of you, like in the case of Zach and I, you could literally eat tacos for a week with the amount you can make with so little money and so little time. On the other hand, it’s the perfect weeknight dinner idea for a family of 15 for the same reasons I gave before. With this recipe, and like most other pulled pork recipes, the pork needs to cook for a long time. Pork shoulder is super tough but super tasty. It needs to cook low and slow to really get those great flavors out. The slow cooker is the perfect kitchen tool for this, but a dutch oven will work just the same and will actually work a little bit faster if you’re in a time crunch. It’s the perfect dish to start before work and come home to a home smelling of delicious aromas. We cooked ours on the highest setting for 4 hours and this worked just find, by the end of the 4 hour mark, the meat was falling apart, which is exactly what you want in the end.
This dish is spicy, but not knock you off your feet spicy. The spiciness can be altered by adding or reducing the amount of chipotle peppers, chili powder and cayenne. It won’t destroy the dish either way. It will however make it more specific to your tastes. The slaw adds a bit of crunch that’s totally necessary for a taco. I’m also remembering now as I write this, that I completely forgot to put the fried onion strings on top of our taco. This isn’t in my recipe (because I forgot), but if you’d like to add to your taco, I think it would be the absolute perfect little touch.
I have a feeling some of you are wondering what a “remoulade” actually is. This is the mayo-like sauce we created for the base of the taco. Developed in France, a remoulade is usually mayo-based and is much like an aioli. It often has pickles incorporate into it which may make you think of a tartar sauce. In fact, it actually is much like a tartar sauce, but it can be developed in really any way you wish as long as mayo and the occasional pickle is involved. Curry remoulades are pretty popular these days. It’s really great with fish, and especially our tacos =).
At first we had no idea what to pair these tacos with. Usually if it’s a Mexican-style dish, we tend to pair with a pale ale or an IPA. This totally gets boring after a while. We discovered last night that we have had yet to pair a dish with a barley wine. Well at least I think I haven’t. Who knows these days. I’ve been forgetting a lot of things here of late. Anyway, we popped open Stone’s Old Guardian Barley Wine last night and almost forgot the glory that comes with drinking a barley wine! It literally smells like vanilla (to me at least it does) and tastes like heaven. It pairs so spectacularly with this dish that in the end I was so so so sad dinner was over. I hate when that happens. Beware though this beer is high in alcohol content so don’t go drinking the whole 22 ounce bottle by yourself. You may just be on the floor by the end of the night, and if you’re feeling extra ambitious try the oak-smoked version. We have yet to pop open ours, but are excited for what it has in store…and if you are feeling extra, extra ambitious, buy an extra bottle and let it age for a year or two. It ages magically. Oh…and if you are feeling extra, extra, extra ambitious, buy yet ANOTHER bottle and let it age for even a few more years. It will age even MORE magically =).
Tonight I’m making my own version of biscotti without the anise (because I truly hate the stuff). It will be perfect with our morning lattes and a great start to the day. I’ll show you how to make these little guys tomorrow. Good day everyone!
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder + 1 teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano, divided
- 5-6 lb boneless pork shoulder
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 serrano peppers, seeds removed and chopped
- 2 fresno peppers, seeds removed and chopped
- 1 small spanish onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, finely minced + 4 cloves, chopped
- 4 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped + 3 chipotles, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 package prepare coleslaw mix (carrots and red and green cabbage)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 orange bell pepper, seeds removed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice + juice from 1 lime
- 1 tablespoons freshly grate lime zest
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (we used Horsetooth)
- 1/2 cup EVOO
- 1 cup mayo
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 4 bread and butter pickles, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
- 2 cups white rice, cooked per manufacturer's instructions and salted
- flour or corn tortillas
- 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
- cilantro leaves for garnish
- In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cardamom and 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano. Whisk together and set aside.
- Remove your pork shoulder from the packaging, rinse and pat dry. With your fingers rub on your spice mixture (using all of it). Place the pork shoulder into your slow cooker, set to high for 4 hours or low for 8+ hours. Also to the slow cooker add the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.
- In a saute pan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the peppers and onion and cook until tender and onions are translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Transfer the mixture to a blender and also add the chipotles, apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of oregano, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Blend until smooth. Transfer the sauce back to the saute pan and turn the heat back up to medium. Let cook for about 3 minutes then add in the chicken stock. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Transfer the sauce to a large measuring bowl with a spout. Very slowly pour the sauce into the slow cooker, making sure not to douse the pork so that the spice rub slips off. Cook until the pork begins to pull apart (about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low).
- Meanwhile, prepare your Mexican-style slaw. In a bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, 1 teaspoon cumin, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, hot sauce and EVOO until completely combined and smooth. In a separate larger bowl combine the package of coleslaw mix, red and orange bell peppers, red onion, cilantro and your dressing. Toss together to combine then cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to combine properly.
- Now you will prepare your Mexican-style remoulade. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the mayo, dijon mustard, yellow mustard, garlic powder, the juice from 1 lime, sriracha, pickles, cilantro, the remaining 3 chipotles, a dash of salt and pepper. Whisk together until completely combined then cover and also refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Once your pulled pork has "pulled apart," the flavors in your slaw have melded and remoulade has chilled, start constructing your tacos. First layer a tablespoon of the remoulade on the taco, top with white rice, slaw, and then the pulled pork. Top with queso fresco crumbles and cilantro leaves.
- Serve with rice and refried beans and enjoy!
Hardware: * Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven w/ Lid * Small, Medium and Large Bowls * Saute Pans * Wooden Spoons * Blender * Airtight Containers * Forks (for pulling) * Sharp Knife * Cutting Board * Measuring Spoons * Measuring Cups * Sauce Pan w/ Lid (for cooking rice) *