Sex in the Kitchen: Beer-Braised Pork Tacos
You probably think you know how to cook because you can heat up frozen burritos, but what are you going to do when a lady comes over for dinner? She’s had enough bachelors cook her their “kick-ass spaghetti recipe,” to feed Italy for a month (your date gets around and has very low standards). You’re going to have to up your game in the sexy art of simple cooking.
We’ve got you covered. Remember our Ten Sizzling Hot Chefs? Let Rochelle Bilow teach you how to wow any woman with a recipe that’s just as easy and ten times as delicious. And you get to cook with beer!
It’s not that I’m opposed to drinking frozen margaritas and inhaling store-bought tortilla chips on Cinco de Mayo – or any other day of the year, for that matter. It’s just that I think we can do a little bit better when it comes to eating Mexican food.
The thing is, we Americans have so tweaked the idea of Mexican food to fit our tastes that the term “taco” now conjures up images of a greasy fried shell jam-packed with shredded iceberg lettuce, waxy cheese-like product and flavorless ground beef. Ask any Mexican if that’s a taco, and you’ll get laughed right out of the country.
A chef friend of mine who lives and cooks in Cozumel is constantly bragging about the local produce and meat she gets to work with – and let me tell you, her authentic Mexican dishes look nothing like Taco Bell’s Nachos Bellgrande. Though Cinco de Mayo isn’t celebrated in the Yucatan, she relishes the excuse to celebrate the flavors she loves to cook with: “Mexican food is vibrant, spicy, succulent, fresh & surprising. It directly reflects this colorful & festive culture. The bite of pickled red onions, the lingering heat of a chili, to the zesty tangy taste of sour orange & annatto, Mexican food is never heavy and you can be sure one taco is never enough.”
Yes. About those tacos. Picture a tortilla cooked with fresh masa: corn dough made from newly ground hominy. It’s pliable, soft and smells toasty and vegetal. Got the image in your mind? Good. Now picture that tortilla piled with tender, shredded pork, intensely flavored with fiery red chilies and tomatoes – maybe even a whisper of dark chocolate. Hell, you can even think about having braised it in beer, if you want. Toss on a few radishes, shaved paper-thin, and a generous squeeze of real lime juice.
Now take a swig of that margarita next to you (made with tequila, salt, lime and Triple Sec – not a drop of “sour mix” in sight, please) and fold that taco in half. Take a bite and close your eyes. Tastes fresh, doesn’t it? Tastes spicy and damn good and, if you do say so yourself, is probably the best thing you’ve ever made? Yeah. That’s what we’re going for here. I’ll consent that there’s a time and place for crappy faux-Mexican cuisine, but this holiday ain’t it. So get off your culo and make this spicy pulled pork. The time is right and the food is good.
Cinco de Mayo Pulled Pork
- 1 2-to-3-pound pork shoulder, preferably bone-in 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 1 12-ounce bottle of ale style beer
- 1 cup chicken stock 1 white onion, chopped roughly
- 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 4 dried chilies 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 ounce dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao)
- Salt, pepper
Heat a large, heavy pot (like a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add the oil and season the pork generously with salt and pepper on all sides.
Using tongs or a meat fork, lower the pork into the pot and brown all over – about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the pork from the pot and set on a plate or cutting board.
Add a splash of the beer to the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Once the liquid has evaporated, add the onions, garlic, and peppers. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the rest of the beer, the chicken stock and the tomatoes. Gently add the pork back in and partially cover the pot with a lid.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to medium-low, or until the liquid reaches a slow simmer (we’re looking for lazy bubbles here, not a frantic amount of action.) Keep partially covered and cook for 2 ½ hours, turning the meat occasionally.
Remove the pork from the pot and set it on a cutting board. Use a stick (hand-held) or traditional blender to puree the sauce, then add it back to the pot. If it looks thin and soupy, heat it over a medium flame for 20 minutes, until reduced to the point where it nicely coats and clings to the back of a spoon. Add in the chocolate and stir to melt it. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Meanwhile, using two forks or, more realistically, your fingers, shred the pork into bite size pieces. Once it’s shredded completely, add the meat to the thickened sauce and stir to coat. Pile on tacos, devour and be happy.
Rochelle Bilow is a freelance food and wine writer. To read more of her recipes and thoughts on eating and drinking, visit her website at rochellebilow.com