This past weekend I participated in the Taco Takedown here in Austin. It was a fun event with local home cooks preparing some seriously tasty tacos. I met a fellow blogger, Jennifer from The Fit Fork, who created a srircha brisket taco with pickled watermelon rind relish. Very creative and tasty too! A wide variety of tacos were prepared including breakfast and dessert options too.
I prepared this braised pork taco with pineapple guacamole, pickled onions and hot sauce for the event. The recipe is a mashup of two authentic Mexican dishes, tacos al pastor and cochinita pibil. The marinades for these dishes are actually quite similar, so I combined ingredients from both and added some broth to make the braising liquid. Oven-braising the pork for a few hours makes the pork succulent and fork-tender. Pineapple is typical of al pastor, and I worked this into the guacamole, while pickled onions are served with cochinita pibil. Finally I topped it off with a creamy jalapeño salsa and toasted pumpkin seeds.
The taco received multiple compliments for its eye-catching colors: green from the guacamole, orange from the creamy jalapeño salsa and red from the pickled onion. Many were intrigued by the deep red color of the onions which I was able to achieve by adding beet to the pickling liquid.
I love the combination of flavors the taco provides, with savory from the pork, sweet from the pineapple, sour from the onions, spicy from the jalapeños and some texture from pumpkin seeds. So next time you’re planning a fiesta (or just dinner), put on some Mariachi music, pour some margaritas and enjoy some of my pastor-pibil tacos.
- 1 package tortillas
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 recipe creamy jalapeño salsa (//brisketandbagels.com/2014/09/creamy-jalepeno-salsa/)
- 1 ancho chile
- 3 guajillo chiles
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup Mexican cola (or regular coke)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp oregano (Mexican preferred)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon annatto seeds
- oil for cooking
- 3 pounds pork shoulder cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- small red beet peeled and quatered
- 1 red onion sliced
- 1 large avocado
- 1/8 cup onion diced
- 1/8 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/8 cup diced pineapple
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Roast the chiles in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.
- Remove the stems and seeds and place the chiles in a bowl and cover with hot water to soften for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile sauté the onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat until softened about 5 minutes.
- Add all the ingredients except the pork in a blender and puree on high until smooth. Pass the mixture through a strainer and set the puree aside.
- Season the pork with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add a few teaspoons of oil to a 3 to 5 quart ovenproof pot and cook the until the meat until browned on all sides.
- Add the puree to the pork, cover and place in a 300 degree oven and cook 2 to 3 hours until fork tender.
- Add the vinegar, lime juice and beet to a blender and puree on high. Pass the liquid through a strainer to remove any beet solids. The liquid should be a vibrant red color.
- Combine the onions and pickling liquid in a bowl. Let sit for at least 30 minutes but the color and flavor will intensify if made ahead.
- Mash the avocado with a fork in a bowl. Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir to combine.
- Assemble the tacos in just prior to serving by adding each of the recipe components or set everything out and let your guests build their own.
I used red jalapeños for the creamy jalapeño salsa which gave the orange color. The ripened jalapeño also has a little less heat and is somewhat sweater than its green counterpart. If you can’t tolerate a lot of heat, feel free to substitute a regular roasted red pepper.