…Or how I branched out from my tried and true Pulled Pork recipe.
I think it’s important to try new things, to take calculated risks. It makes life more interesting and at the very least, one gets an interesting anecdote. These are the things that keep us moving, keep us growing. I’m all for it.
That said, I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not to try a new pulled pork recipe for months. Part of me thought, Why mess with a good thing? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush–or something like that. But another part, the part that won, knew that it’s just a recipe and if it doesn’t work, or isn’t as good, well then now I know. Plus, braised pork is never a bad thing. Ever.
That being said, I went through my file of recipe clippings from various magazines and found a recipe from the May issue of Bon Appetit for Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos. Tacos. Yes. If all else failed, I would still have tacos. Calculated risks, people.
Sour cream, guacamole, cheese, hot sauce; you get it. This time, however, I found cojita cheese, and while K preferred your standard shredded Mexican blend cheese product, I thought this new variety was delightful. It was salty, crumbly, delicious.
While the pork flavor on it’s own wasn’t knock-your-socks off like my other pulled pork recipe, the flavor paired perfectly with other Mexican ingredients. While the original pulled pork is divine, it’s flavor is pretty strong, which means it can overpower whatever it’s on top of or next to. This pork doesn’t do that. This pork has wonderful flavor, but still lets the rest of the taco ingredients do their thing.
The pork itself was tender and fell right off the bone, which, if you watch any Food-Travel-Extravaganza shows, is always their test for perfectly cooked pork shoulder.
Trying new things can be fun and delicious. And who says a person can’t have two pulled pork recipes in her rotation?
Not me. Not anymore!
Here’s the recipe:
- 6 dried chilis*
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 7-pound Pork shoulder (i used bone-in)
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 12-ounce bottle Dark beer
- 1/2 cup crumbled Cojita cheese
- sour cream
- hot sauce
- Place chilis in a medium bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover, then place a plate or a smaller lid on top to submerge. Let soak for 30 minutes, until softened. Drain chilis, reserving about 1 cup of soaking liquid.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chilis, sugar, lime juice, and 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid into a blender. Blend until a smooth paste forms. Add more soaking liquid if necessary.
- Place pork in a large bowl and trim most of the fat off with a sharp knife. Season pork generously with salt on all sides and spread paste over pork. Cover and chill.
- Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, and allspice. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 7 minutes. Add bear and bring to a boil. Add pork to the pot, pouring on any additional chili paste left in the bowl. Cover with a heavy lid and transfer to oven.
- Braise pork, turning and basting every hour, until fork-tender, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours (depending on the size of your pork)
- When done, remove pork to a platter and skim off the fat of the braising liquid. Return pork to pot and shred, using two forks or tongs.
- Heat tortillas either in the oven or in the microwave and assemble your taco bar. Serve pork and tortillas on a plate, and put all other taco ingredients in bowls. Make your own tacos!
*I don’t know much about dried chiles, so I bought what I could find, which were “New Mexico hot chiles.” The recipe calls for 4 dried ancho chiles and 2 chiles de arbol or japones. If you can procure these, or know what they are (or even better, what they taste like!) definitely go for it.