Recipe of the Week: Spicy Pork Tacos
There's just something about the combination of pork and pineapple that goes together. The Hawaiians know it, the Filipinos know it, even chain pizza restaurants know it. What the Mexicans have figured out better than nearly anyone else is that the best partner for fresh, sweet pineapple is not just pork, but spicy pork.
I'm not going to pretend these tacos are carne adobada. I'm certainly not going to pretend they're tacos al pastor. I'm not even going to pretend these tacos are Mexican, though they are drawn from a Mexican set of flavors. I don't own a trompo, and in my tiny, galley-style kitchen, I'm not likely ever to have room for one, so this is my best chance besides takeout from a lonchera at eating piggy picoso in my own house.
As with all my recipes, you can substitute prepared products for made-from-scratch products in any amount, from good "store-boughten" tortillas all the way up through Sandra Lee-esque "semi-homemade" food.
2 to 2 1/2 lbs. pork shoulder
2 tsp. salt
4 pasilla chiles
4 puya (or, if you want less spicy, guajillo) chiles
2 to 3 cups water
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 cinnamon stick, cracked
2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
1/4 fresh pineapple, skinned and cored
Tortillas, chopped onion and cilantro, salsa
1. Cut the pork into slices about half-an-inch thick, more or less.
2. Rub salt into the pork, and put it into a gallon-size plastic resealable bag.
3. Stem and seed the chiles.
4. Toast the chiles on a dry comal or cast-iron pan until they soften but do not burn.
5. Set the toasted chiles in a bowl with the water.
6. Toast the garlic, still in its wrapping, on the hot comal until black spots appear, then peel.
7. Toast the cumin and peppercorns on the comal until they start to "pop."
8. Put the chiles, garlic, cumin, peppercorns, oregano, thyme, cinnamon and vinegar in a blender.
9. Blend, adding little splashes of the chile soaking water as needed, until the mixture is thick but pourable and relatively smooth.
10. Toss the chile mixture into the bag, and massage it into the pork.
11. Close the bag, expelling as much air as possible without making a mess, and let sit for an hour.
12. Slice the onions thinly, and slice the pineapple thickly.
13. Heat a grill pan over very high heat until a drop of water dances on it, then grease it carefully.
14. Set the pork in the pan; cover it with the onions and pineapple. Cook just a couple of minutes, until char starts to form.
15. Retrieve the pork from under the onions and pineapple, flip, and lay atop the onions and pineapple.
16. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until the pork is done and the pineapple and onions have taken on a little char.
17. Chop and serve in warm tortillas with chopped onions and cilantro and the salsa of your choice.
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