Monday, June 27, 2011

In The Kitchen: Pulled Pork Tacos

This week we are featuring all things Texas! We are going to Mr. Fonty's ranch in the Texas Hill Country for the 4th. Nothing is more Tejas than Pulled Pork!
Mr. Fonty and I usually have what we've dubbed "Slow Cook Sunday", where I will braise a big ole hunk of meat all Sunday long. Since the weather just keeps getting hotter here in GA, short ribs, roasts, and anything served with a side of mashed potatoes are sounding less and less enticing. I've had to recreate braising recipes to be summer friendly.
Thankfully, we received the Cadillac of slow cookers: The All Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker (Thanks Levys!). The insert can be removed and used to saute vegetables and brown the meat. It also saves me from heating our entire house while cooking for 5 hours. Looks like Slow Cook Sunday will live on despite the heat!
This past Wednesday, we celebrated Athfest with all the New West folks in town from LA and Houston. We had about 30 people over, and I wanted something easy to serve that wouldn't require the oven. These pulled pork tacos were a huge hit, and so easy to make in advance. It was a great mid-week dinner party dish. I love the spicy cayenne with the sweet, yet wintery flavors of the cider, all spice and clove.

Pulled Pork Tacos:
3 lbs. Boston Butt (bone-in or out is fine)
1 onion diced
5 cloves smashed garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup Apple Cider
1/2  cup water
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
1 Bay Leaf
All spice
Salt & Pepper

Season meat generously with salt & pepper. Heat oil in a heavy pan (or slow cooker insert). Sear the meat on all 4 sides. Cook for roughly 10 minutes total.
Set meat aside
Cook the onions, garlic and spices in meat oil. Once the onions are translucent pour in the apple cider vinegar (keep your face from the fumes. A vinegar facial is no fun). Boil until the vinegar evaporates. Add the cider and the water. Stir. Add the can of tomatoes with juices squeezing the tomatoes in your hands. Stir.
Add the meat, cloves, all spice, and bay leaf and spoon sauce so it covers the meat.
Cover with lid.
Cook on Low for 8-10 hours until meat pulls apart easily.
Set meat aside. Pour cooking juice through a fine sieve to remove any vegetable. Refrigerate to separate the fat.
Pull the meat apart with 2 forks or your hands. *I did everything up to this step 2 days ahead.

When you are ready to serve, remove fat layer from cooking juices.
Heat juice and re-spice until thickened and reduced to 2/3. Add the pulled beef to reheat.
Put in serving bowl with tongs for guests to serve themselves in small tortillas.

Serve with a combination of any of the following:
Cole Slaw (Here is a great slaw recipe. I like to add green apple slivers when serving with pulled pork)
Chopped Onion/Jalapeno
Avocado slices
Lime wedges

Season the meat

Sear the meat to lock in the juices

Simmer the tomatoes and onions
I like this Pear & Cinnamon Cider from Trader Joes's
Cover the meat with the sauce
I forgot to take more pictures, but here's an idea of the finished product:
southwestern pulled brisket
Smitten Kitchen
This recipe can also be done in a Dutch oven at 325 for 4-5 hours. (i haven't timed a boston butt in a few months so this is an estimate. I'll revisit for exact timing in the fall when it cools down a bit.)

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