My hubby-to-be and I were having a couple friends over for dinner this week, and wanted to have something fun to eat that was communal, and also hearty for the winter months. In the end, we settled on pulled pork tacos. What’s better than sitting together, assembling our own tacos? (Okay, possibly a fondue or Chinese hot pot, but that’s for next time.)
The most labour-intensive part of this recipe is the pork, which I’d recommend making the night before you want to eat it. The longer you cook it, the softer and tastier the pork becomes. What’s great about this recipe is that it practically makes itself. All you need is a slow cooker or a thermal cooker. I use a thermal cooker for all my slow cooking and soups, which is probably one of my most highly recommended (and well-used) kitchen items I have. It keeps the heat, and cooks without requiring electricity or monitoring. More on the thermal cooker in a future post.
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped coarsely into eighths
- 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes (which usually come in a large can)
- 1 (3 pound) boneless pork butt, cut into large 4-inch chunks
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1 orange, halved and juiced
- 1 lime, halved and juiced
- 1 package of soft shelled tacos
- 1/2 sweet onion, peeled, chopped into strips
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1/4 ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon, cayenne pepper
- 1 cup of chopped cilantro
- 2 cups of finely chopped tomatoes
- 1-1/2 cup of grated cheese of your choice (we love mozzarella or gruyère)
- Sour cream
- Guacamole (optional)
Heat up either a deep pan or the cooking pot (inner pot) of your thermal cooker on low with a tablespoon of olive oil. Peel and chop your onions, peel and smash your garlic, and throw them into the pan or pot. Stir lightly and cover. If you are using a slow cooker, transfer the contents to the slow cooker after about 5 minutes when the onions are slightly browned.
Prepare the spice rub for the pork, and mix the chipotle chilli powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, salt, and pepper thoroughly in a bowl.
Chop the pork into thick chunks. The chunks should be about 4 inches lengthwise, along the grain of the meat, the width can be 2-4 inches.
Cover the pork with the spices and rub it into the meat. Place the meat into either your slow cooker or thermal cooking pot. Give it a good mix.
Add the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, maple syrup, orange, and lime juice, into the pot. Stir the mixture thoroughly, and make sure the meat is covered by the liquid. If you are using a slow cooker, cover it and allow it to cook overnight. If you are using a thermal cooker, bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes and place the pot into the insulated pot of the thermal cooker. Allow it to cook overnight.
In the morning, scoop out the meat and tease it apart. Place the resulting pork strands back into the liquid mixture of your slow cooker or thermal cooker. If you are using the thermal cooker, bring the mixture back to a boil with the lid on the pot, and place the pot back into the insulated pot. Allow the meat to cook through the day.
An hour or so before serving, you will want to reduce the sauce of the pulled pork. If you are using a slow cooker, transfer the contents into a pot, keep the lid of the pot off and bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer and reduce. If you are using a thermal pot, just place your inner pot on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil with the lid removed, and reduce in the same way.
To prepare the onion garnish, peel and chop your onion into strips. Place the olive oil into a pan, turn the heat to medium, and place the onion strips into the pan. Add the chilli powder, salt, and pepper, and sautée the onions in the spices until they are slightly caramelized and soft. Place them into a serving bowl or dish.
Chop up your cilantro and tomatoes. Grate the cheese. Prepare your guacamole, and place in separate serving bowls.
These pulled pork tacos go well with a fresh tomato salad, slaw or other side of your choice.
Adapted from “Pat’s Pulled Pork Tacos“.