Gerry has recently been taking part in a multi-post series cooking from The Homesick Texan cookbook. I'm not a homesick Texan, but I AM a native Texan...so all of the recipes from that series really caught my eye. I eventually settled on making the Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style. After marinating pork shoulder in a spicy homemade marinade for a few hours, the meat is cooked and served in warm tortillas. I have to say that we really enjoyed these tacos...there are taquerias on nearly every corner in San Antonio, but nothing beats homemade. I did tweak the recipe ever so slightly...I obviously didn't read the recipe for comprehension, because I came home with just orange juice for the marinade and totally forgot to buy pineapple juice. Rather than panic, I just doubled up the orange juice and all was well.
I'm also not totally sure that I bought pasilla chiles that the recipe called for. The bin at the grocery store said pasilla, but I looked them up online when I noticed my my meat had a much redder color than Gerry's. Pasillas seem to be much darker than what I used....the marinade was still delish, but now I'm wondering what chile I actually used! I also made one other change: rather than quick-cooking the meat in a hot skillet, I opted to cook it low and slow in the crockpot. The meat was fall-apart tender after four hours on low. I served the tacos with homemade pico de gallo, crumbled queso fresco, and lime crema.
Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style
adapted from Foodness Gracious
Step 1: Make the marinade. Heat a non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Remove the stem and seeds from four dried pasilla peppers. Heat the peppers for about ten seconds per side...they sort of puff up. Add enough water to cover the peppers and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and set aside for 30 minutes.
Step 2: While the chiles rehydrate, cut 2 lbs. pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) into bite-sized cubes. Put the meat in a large mixing bowl and add a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the marinade. Add the following ingredients to a blender or food processor: the drained rehydrated chiles, 1 canned chile in adobo, 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tbs. olive oil, 1 tbs. vinegar, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano, a pinch of cloves, and about 1 tsp. salt. Process until smooth and pour the marinade over the pork in the bowl.
Step 3: Stir well to combine and let the meat marinate for 8 hours. FYI: I only had about five hours between when I put the meat in the fridge and when it needed to go into the crockpot, but my meat was flavored all the way through when it was cooked. Place the meat in a crockpot and cook on low for four hours. I gave it a stir about once an hour, but left it alone to do its thing otherwise. The house smelled heavenly while it cooked...always a nice plus! The meat will be juicy and super tender at the end of four hours.
Step 4: While the meat cooked, I made a small batch of fresh pico de gallo by adding the following ingredients to a small bowl: 1/3 cup finely diced white onion that was rinsed in cold water in a colander, 3 small diced roma tomatoes, 1 finely diced seeded serrano pepper, the juice of one lime, 1 tbs. finely chopped cilantro, and a bit of salt to taste. Give it a quick stir to combine and let it hang out in the fridge for an hour or so. I also made a simple crema by combining 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup skim milk, and the juice of half a lime. I put it in a squeeze bottle for easy serving.
Step 5: When the meat is cooked, assemble the tacos. Steam flour and/or corn tortillas and top with a spoon or two of the well-drained pork. Top each taco with a bit of the pico, a squeeze of the crema, and a bit of crumbed queso fresco.
We both enjoyed these tacos a lot...they were spicy, but not overly so. This was my first time to cook with dried chiles, so that was a learning experience for me. I cook with fresh jalapenos, serranos, and poblano chiles quite a bit...but I've always been reluctant to work with dried chiles. Now that I know how simple they are to rehydrate, I'll be looking for more ways to incorporate them into my recipes! You can serve these tacos with Mexican rice or beans, but we opted to skip the sides and stuff our face with just tacos instead.
Although you can use flour or corn tortillas with this yummy pork, I will share this bit of information: the corn tortilla version -- though quite yummy -- was a very messy. We found that the saucy pork was much easier to eat inside the more sturdy flour tortillas. Your mileage may vary, but even a double layer of corn tortillas started to fall apart on us. It didn't keep us from eating them, but I'm sure it wasn't a pretty sight to behold!