In the wise-beyond-his-plastic-years words of Emmett, “It’s taco Tuesday!!!”
However, I am no respecter of weekdays. I could eat tacos all day, son!
But in case you need a good excuse, it is Tuesday! (and if it’s not Tuesday in your world, just pretend cause these are hella good.)
I was looking to find a taco recipe that had all of the layers of flavor that I crave but didn’t require a lot of babysitting. With a 4-year old, a 1-year old and a husband who acts 13 sometimes (read: most of the time), I’ve got plenty of that in my life as is.
Braising to the rescue!
Braised meats are typically seared over high heat and then gently simmered (not boiled) in a spice and herb-laden liquid. The sear acts like a barbwire fence, holding those juices hostage inside the pork and the slow simmer breaks down the collagen in the meat and infuses it with all kinds of flavor.
Pork shoulder is all about the low and slow. After you sear the outside, set it in the pot in the oven and forget it! … at least for 2 1/2 hours. Which means 2 1/2 hours to myself to try to undo the smudgy fingerprinted crime scene that is my house. May the odds be ever in my favor.
Just make sure you give yourself 15 minutes at the end to throw together the avocado crema and pineapple slaw.
I’m talkin’ about pineapple, bok choy, jalapenos, lime juice, honey and CILANTRO.
This slaw is the ringer. It brings in the freshness, the sweet, the bite, the spice and the acid. Each mouthful of taco turns into a culinary symphony.
So get that pork shoulder in the oven and go watch some Downton Abbey or in my case, a personal and unsolicited toddler version of Gladiators.
TIPS: In my book, cilantro is the only way to go. But you can always substitute parsley in there if you are cilantro-phobic.
When braising you are looking for the liquid to be about 2/3rds up the side of the meat – not completely submerged.
Maple-Chipotle Pork Tacos with Pineapple Slaw
Serves: 8 to 10
Total Time: about 3 hours
1 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder
2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into wedges
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 bay leaves
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
2 chipotles in adobo sauce
Pineapple-Bok Choy Slaw:
2 cups bok choy (or baby bok choy), thinly sliced
1 cup pineapple, thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a large dutch oven or oven-safe pot, heat up the 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Brown the pork shoulder on all sides in the hot oil.
- Take the pork shoulder out of the pot and set to the side. Into the hot pot, add in the onion, garlic cloves, jalapeno, cumin, peppercorns and oregano. Toast just until the onions are slightly brown and softened.
- Add in the water, broth, orange juice, bay leaves, maple syrup, chipotle peppers in adobo and the pork shoulder. The liquid should come 2/3 up the sides of the pork but not cover it completely.
- Bring to a simmer and then put, covered, into the oven to cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat shreds easily when you stab it with a fork.
- When cool enough to handle, shred the pork.
- While the pork shoulder is cooking, make the pineapple-bok choy slaw. Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Let the slaw sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before eating.
- Time to assemble your tacos. Lightly toast or warm your tortillas on the stove and load them up with the pulled pork, pineapple slaw and avocado crema. Add more cilantro or jalapenos as you like.
You can use corn or flour tortillas.
Trying swapping out the pineapples for mangoes.