Move over Old El paso. It’s time to ditch those hard shells and get real about tacos.
It’s no big secret I’ve been all over the tacos for some time now. It all started with a bag of masa (corn flour) and the purchase of a tortilla press. Soft, freshly made corn tortillas are a game changer. Suddenly, tacos were no longer the hard shell, artificially seasoned ground beef, shredded iceberg, cheddar cheese tacos of my childhood. I’m talking smoked pulled pork tacos with chipotle lime sour cream and pickled onions, twice cooked pork belly tacos with pico de gallo and avocado, or crane asada tacos with roasted guacamole and pickled jalapeños. The possibilities seem to be endless.
Last week it was pork carnitas tacos with salsa verde and salsa doña. A take on the traditional pork carnitas, this pretty much blew my mind. Simply jam a bunch of ingredients in the slow cooker and bam, perfectly moist, mad flavourful pork carnitas. I love bold flavours and this combo of chipotle, citrus, plus whole coriander and cumin seeds is a legitimate party in your mouth. We also tried two new salsas: one was a cooked salsa using local tomatillos (yeah I said local) and the other more a puree of roasted garlic and jalapeños that our friend Crowley got us hooked on. Both were awesome and a whole world more flavourful than any bottled salsa. But tacos pretty work with whatever salsa tickles your fancy. If you really want to get in on the taco game, add one or more of the following: shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radish, pickled onions, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, fresh cilantro, cheese, sliced hot peppers, lime wedges, and green onions. Honestly, you can’t really go wrong. The best part? They’re small enough that you can have many, each one topped exactly how you want. How’s that for customizable dinner.
Don’t be scared off by the seemingly giant list of instructions. Once that pork is in the slow cooker, you’ll have loads of time to whip up some salsa and corn tortillas. Plus every time you make the tortillas, you get faster and faster until one day out of nowhere you’ll realize you’re a god damn tortilla ninja.
Though this will serve four, you’re only going to want to serve it for two (remember to halve the tortilla recipe). While it would be nice to have friends over for a taco night and all, you want leftovers. Trust me. How else are you going to #putaneggonit? Simply whip up a few corn tortillas, reheat that pork, then poach or fry up some eggs. Heuvos rancheros just like that.
- 600 g pork shoulder
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons corriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons chipotle puree*
- juice of an orange
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 cups corn flour
- 1 1/2 warm water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups chopped tomatillos
- 1 clove garlc
- 1 jalapeño
- 2 green onions, ends removed
- handful cilantro, including stems
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 10-12 jalapeños
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more as needed
- Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper. Place in a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients except zest and sugar. Cook on high about 4 hours or until the pork is pull apart tender. Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a fork. Pull pork apart with two forks. Stir in zest and sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
- For corn tortillas, combine corn flour and salt. Add warm water until dough just sticks together. Knead until dough is soft. Form into a ball and let rest 30 min. (You can skip the resting period though the dough like most dough is much easier to work with when you do.) Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high. Form dough into 16 balls. One at a time, press or roll out dough into a thin round. Once the skillet is very hot, toast the tortillas about 1 min per side. Remove from the skillet and keep warm wrapped in a tea towel. Continue with remaining dough.
- For salsa doña, preheat oven to 400. Place jalapeños and garlic on a baking sheet. Roast until jalapeños are charred and garlic is soft. Place jalapeños in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool, remove skin and seeds. Remove garlic cloves and add to a blender. Add jalapeños and process until smooth, adding oil slowly. Add as much oil as necessary to produce a smooth, silky texture. Season to taste with salt and a squeeze of lime.
- For salsa verde, place tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño in a small pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain. Remove skin and seeds from the jalapeño. Add tomatillos, jalapeño, and garlic to a food processor along with the remaining ingredient. Pulse until combined. Refrigerate until use.
- To serve, place corn tortillas, pork, salsas and any additional toppings on the table. Top each taco anyway you like.
- *Grab yourself a can of chipotles in adobo sauce and puree the whole thing. Transfer to a jar. Keep refrigerated and use whenever you want some smokey heat.