RECIPE

Braised Pork Tacos

Pile your choice of tacos with slow-roasted, succulently-seasoned pork shoulder, veggies, cheese and tangy juices.

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (4-5 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 onions, cut into wedges, root ends attached
  • 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano leaves (half a palmful), chopped
  • 2 red chili peppers, thinly sliced, divided
  • 4 bay leaves, divided
  • 1 bottle Mexican beer (12 ounces)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 oranges, juiced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, seeded and finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced store-bought pickled jalapeño peppers or banana pepper rings, drained
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled or 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 16 corn or flour tortillas, charred over open flame and kept warm in tortilla warmer or towel

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.


Season the pork generously with salt and pepper, to taste, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Pat the pork dry with a paper towel. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over high heat with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, two turns of the pan. Put the pork in the pot and evenly brown the meat all over (it will take about 10-12 minutes); remove the pork to a plate and reserve.

Turn the heat down to medium-high and add the EVOO to the pot, a couple of turns of the pan. Add the onions, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, oregano, one of the sliced chili peppers and two of the bay leaves and cook for 7-8 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the beer, scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the chicken stock and orange juice. Add the reserved pork back to the pot (the liquid should come about two-thirds the way up the meat) and bring to a simmer. Cover and put the pork in the oven, turning the meat halfway through cooking, until the meat is very tender, about 2 1/2-3 hours. Remove the pork from the pot to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart with two forks.

Simmer the braising liquid over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the chipotle and adobo sauce and the lime juice. Add about two-thirds of the shredded meat and stir. Cool the remaining shredded pork and chill for another use.

While the pork is cooking, prepare the pickled red onions: In a small saucepot, bring the white wine vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, the remaining chili pepper and the remaining bay leaves to a simmer over low heat. Put the sliced red onions in a small sealable container. Carefully pour the hot liquid over the onions, cover and give the container a shake. You may need to lift the lid to release some of the pressure. Every now and then, give it a good shake.

Refrigerate to cool.

To serve, put the chipotle pulled pork on a platter and garnish with pickled onions and pickled jalapeno slices. Serve with shredded cabbage, crumbled cheese and tortillas for wrapping.

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Rachael Ray