Braised Pork Taco Magic

Last summer Brad and I just couldn’t get enough of grilled pork tacos. I get these country style ribs from Ray Bradley, marinate them overnight, then Brad gills them low and slow. Our ritual is to thinly slice that lightly charred, juicy-as-can-be pork, pile it into warm tortillas, and top it with grilled tomatillo salsa and a bit of cojita or queso blanco cheese.

Hot to eat a taco, by Brad

Labor Day has come and gone, and the weather is quickly turning cool, but I’m just not ready to let go. So at the start of this week, I planned for grilled pork tacos. But the following day when the pork was marinated and ready to roll, it was rainy and cold – definitely not “hang on to summer and fire up the grill” weather. Fortunately, that same day I read the NY Locavore Challenge email suggesting I shake things up and try a different cooking technique, and with that, inspiration struck. It’s not Summer any more, which means it’s OK to have the oven on all day. I decided to braise that pork.

And so when I can home for lunch, I removed the pork from the marinade, and browned it in a hot skillet. Then I transfered it to an over-proof dish, poured the marinade back over the pork (I used an 8″ baking dish so the liquids would come up nice and high on the meat), covered it tightly with foil, put it in the 250 degree oven, and forgot about it. That is of course until I came back 6 hours later to the smell of spicy, braised pork wafting through the apartment…

Admit it, you wish this taco was making its way to your mouth right now.

The actual tacos that came out of this process where a bit of an improvisation – including some red cabbage, which I tossed with lime and salt to quickly pickle while the pork braised, and an avocado, (locavores, cover your eyes!) which happened to have made its way from California to my kitchen, that I sliced to include with the pickled cabbage as garnish. But the key to the awesomeness that is Chez T Tacos (grilled or braised – although from now on I fear Brad will make a case for the braise), are 3 killer local products:

Bradley Farm Country Style Ribs

These aren’t actually “Ribs”, they’re cut from the shoulder and while they occasionally include a bit of blade bone, are typically boneless. They have just the right amount of fat to cook up juicy as all hell every time. *If you can’t find country style ribs, I’d go for some typical pork shoulder cut into a few pieces. But no matter what, buy your pork from someone who knew what the pig looked like.

Hot Bread Kitchen Handmade Corn Tortillas

I can’t say enough about how totally amazing these tortillas are. Not because Hot Bread Kitchen is a Bad Feather client, but because they are handmade from fresh ground organic corn and they are the best damn tortillas I’ve ever had outside of Mexico. We opt for the steaming method to heat them and find they’re just perfect for tacos.

Narragansett Creamery Queso Blanco

These guys make artisan cheeses with fresh, local milk – and while I first discovered them when I brought some of their fresh ricotta from the Park Slope Food Coop, I’m gonna just go ahead and say this – their Queso Fresco is off the hook. It crumbles just right atop your taco. All that’s left to do is take a bite and let the juices run down your arm.

And just in case you’re wondering…

My Pork Taco Marinade

(For 1.5-2 lbs. pork)

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeƱos (or habaneros if I have ’em), sliced – seeds and all
  • 1 heaping tablespoon New Mexico Chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients with the pork in a gallon ziplock bag. Swish it around to combine, refrigerate overnight and wait for the magic to happen.

2 Responses to “Braised Pork Taco Magic”

  1. #

    amanda says:

    can we just make a book of brad eating?

    • #

      Heather says:

      I like this idea.

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