Beer-braised Mexican pork tacos with pickled onions, guacamole, tomatoes and radishes

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Wow. I finally understand what the food-blogging world has been talking about when they evoke “food porn.” This food was mind-blowing. Nearly orgasmic. OK, that may have been a stretch, but I think I can honestly say that it was the best food I’ve ever made, and very likely some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. In my entire life. I am in love with this dish, which while lengthy in overall prep and cooking time, is actually relatively easy. The salsa, tortillas and guacamole could easily be replaced with store-bought versions (although you’re homemade condiments will be so much better), reducing the time and effort that this dish will require of you. Personally, I don’t regret a single minute that I spent in the kitchen today!

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I guess I’ve got some explaining to do. That was a pretty strong opening statement. This pork alone was heaven. It was spicy, sweet, tangy, earthy, perfectly cooked and full of flavor. I would love to try it on a sandwich with some equally tangy coleslaw. Or accompanied by a simple salad or vegetable dish. Or all by itself on a plate. It was everything I always knew pork could be. Add to this amazing starting block some fire-infused guacamole, fresh tomato and radish salsa, loads of lime juice and sweet and sour pickled onions and beets, and you’ve got an absolutely winning combination. Sub out the classic taco shells or tortillas for my favorite ever quick flat bread? The best food I’ve ever eaten just got even better.

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I know you may not be able to take my word for it, but I’m telling you, you should make this right away. The best part (aside from leftovers) is that pork shoulder, in France in any case, is one of the cheapest cuts of meat out there. I plan on making this again, and again, and again, and savoring ever last dripping, flavor-packed bite.

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Beer-braised Mexican pulled pork “tacos” with pickled onions, guacamole and tomato radish salsa
Inspired by Chile-Braised Pork Tacos from Bon Appétit (Epicurious), Tacos el Pastor from Tacos (Epicurious) and Food 52’s slow-cooked pork tacos

Ingredients:

1 lb pork shoulder
10-15 small dry chiles
1 t pepper
1 heaping T cumin
1 h T coriander
1 t cayenne
1 t piment d’espelette
1 T sea salt
4 cloves of garlic
1 t allspice
1 C orange juice
2 limes
2 bay leaves
3 T olive oil
1 bottle of dark, strong beer
1/3 C honey
1/4 C brown sugar

Begin by making your marinade. Place your dried chiles in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder with 6-8 black peppercorns. Add to a shallow baking dish. Mix in the cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, piment d’espelette or other mildish spice, sea salt, allspice and the garlic, finely chopped.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

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In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice until it has reduced by about half. Add this to the spice mixture. Finish your marinade by adding the juice of a whole lime. Add the pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces, and place in the fridge for minimum two hours.

In a large dutch oven or other oven-friendly utensil, heat the olive oil over medium heat with the two bay leaves. Add the pork, reserving the marinade for later and keeping as much of it as possible out of the pan for now (the liquid will prevent your meat from browning properly). Turn the meat often and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add one bottle of dark beer and marinade juices and bring to a slow boil. Remove from heat, cover, and put in the oven. Now you can work on your condiments!

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The pork should cook for a minimum of 1 hour and 45 minutes. You should check in on it every 20-30 minutes, stirring and basting the meat and adding water towards the end if needed. Remove the pork from the oven after about 45 minutes of cooking time and stir in the honey and brown sugar. Once the meat is cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and separate the chunks of pork into strands, pulling it. Heat on the stovetop over low heat while you prepare the flatbread, tortillas, condiments, etc. and add the juice of 1/2 lime right before serving.

Guacamole:

2 ripe avocados
1 t cumin
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

Mash the avocados in a medium-sized bowl and mix with spices, lemon and lime juice, salt and pepper.

Pickled onions and beets:

2 parts vinegar
1 part water
2 small onions
1/3 of a cooked beet
1 T salt
2 T sugar

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In a small sauce pan, place your onions, very finely sliced, along with the diced beets. Add in the salt and sugar, and add enough water and vinegar to cover them, using the ratio of 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water. I used a mixture of white vinegar and red wine vinegar. Cook for about 3 minutes over high heat, avoiding boiling and stirring often. Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 2 hours.

Tomato radish salsa:

3 roma tomatoes, finely diced
6 small radishes, finely sliced
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t sea salt

Remove all seeds and inner membranes from the tomatoes and dice. Finely slice the radishes, adding them to a bowl with the tomatoes. Season with sea salt and lemon juice.

**Fresh coriander would of course be a welcome addition to both the salsa and the guacamole, but I didn’t have any. Feel free to add some and to improvise!

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3 thoughts on “Beer-braised Mexican pork tacos with pickled onions, guacamole, tomatoes and radishes

  1. Pingback: Herb-marinated chicken shawarma kebabs | à l'américaine

  2. Pingback: Dark chocolate mint ice cream | à l'américaine

  3. Pingback: Pear and apple crisp with vanilla bean-infused brown butter and cardamom cream | à l'américaine

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