Happy Taco Tuesday! And with Cinco de Mayo only a couple days away, I was feeling the inspiration for some tacos today. You know when you attempt something, and you nail it, then you do a little happy dance, maybe some hands waving in the air? Well that was me in my kitchen when I got to eat these tacos!
I had never done a pork taco to this point, having usually gone with beef or chicken, and even shrimp when my pescatarian friend came over. But when the butcher had pork butt on sale, my decision was made for me.
The butt was beautifully marbled and literally fell apart on it's own as I was taking it out of the slow cooker. And the smells that filled the house... oh my! Even my neighbor mentioned to me "what are you cooking today? Smells amazing!". I went with a mix of traditional Mexican flavours, and added a few of my own, especially when making the rub for the pork.
For the rub, I used mustard powder (which helps tenderize pork), cilantro, cumin, smoked sea salt, pepper, espresso, oregano, and brown sugar. After searing the pork, and letting it cool, I added the rub liberally all over the pork (be sure to work it in with your hands and get it everywhere). I typically use a baking sheet when doing the rub as it makes for easier clean-up.
I lined the bottom of the pot with shallots and garlic, added a chipotle and a roasted jalapeno, then rubbed them into the pork as well. Finally I added the juice of 1/2 a lime, and 1/2 an orange (leaving the orange peels in the pot), and filled with Corona beer.
Side note, to roast peppers, I like to use the bbq and either hold it over the open flame of the side burner, or place it directly on the grill at high heat. With either technique keep an eye on the pepper as we want to roast it, not burn it. Roasting a pepper changes it's flavour a bit and softens it up giving it a charred taste.
Back to the pork. I cooked the pork in a slow cooker, on low heat, for 10 hours. For anyone who is on the go, or has a family, this one is a touchdown for sure as all you'll have to do when you're ready to eat is pull it, get your toppings ready and dinner is served!
When selecting your pork butt (also called shoulder), I like to visit the local butcher, but wherever you buy yours, look for one that is close to 4 lbs, and has some nice marbling (fat running through the meat). This fat will render as it cooks and help the pork get nice and tender. While some people use tenderloin, it is so lean that it sometimes can get dry when cooking it for a long period of time, so best best is to go with a pork butt.
When the pork was cooked, I couldn't believe how easy it was to pull. It literally fell apart on it's own and was incredibly tender. I made some fresh taco shells, an easy slaw (red cabbage, apples, roasted pineapple, salt, pepper, lime juice), and a sour cream, lime, cilantro sauce, and enjoyed every bite of these carnitas!
As I said, this is a great dinner idea if you're hosting taco night, have a busy life, or family who is always on the go. Set it and forget it and it's pretty easy to assemble once you're ready to eat. Did i mention the flavours are unreal? Hope you give it a try and enjoy it, and don't be afraid to do a happy dance of your own!
- The Kid
For the rub
1 Tbsp dried mustard
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp espresso (ground)
1 Tbsp smoked sea salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup brown sugar
For the pork
1 4lb pork butt (shoulder)
2 medium shallots (chopped)
6 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
1/2 roasted jalapeno (chopped with seeds removed)
1 chipotle (chopped)
1/2 orange (squeeze juice in and leave peels in)
1/2 lime (juiced)
1 tall can of beer (I used Corona)
1. Add all the ingredients of the rub in a bowl, and mix with a fork until they have combined.
2. In a pan over high heat, add oil and sear all sides of the pork butt. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes
3. Season the pork with the dry rub, working it in with your hands to get it everywhere. (I typically do this on a baking sheet for easy clean-up). Set aside.
4. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno and chipotle pepper to the slow cooker. Add the pork butt and, using your hands, rotate the pork in the onions mixture a few times.
5. Add the orange and lime juices, and enough beer to have liquid come almost to the top of the pork.
6. Cover and set slow cooker on low heat for 10 hours.
7. Once the pork is cooked, remove it onto a baking sheet and using two forks, pull the meat apart until it is all shredded. Add the liquid to the meat and broil for a couple minutes, until edges get a little bit crispy.
8. Serve on taco shells with your favourite toppings.