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Now that Food52's Editorial Assistant Brette Warshaw has stocked her First Kitchen, she's ready to throw parties in it: no-stress weeknight parties for anyone, anytime, and (almost) every kitchen. You're invited.
Today: A game plan for a fist-pump-worthy version of taco night.
Growing up, there was something foreign and exciting about taco night; the announcement was worthy of my brother and I throwing our hands up in the air, screaming wildly, and running around the kitchen like googly-eyed maniacs.
This happened often, since taco night was once a week.
But now -- as a quasi-grown-up, far away from home -- taco night does not come once a week. It comes rarely ever. So when I decided to have friends over for my own iteration -- a grown-up one, complete with cajeta fondue and margaritas -- they reacted just like my ten-year-old self: they pumped their hands in the air and bounded on over.
Because in all of its foreign-ness -- we're in West Philadelphia, miles away from Mexico -- taco night is both celebratory and comforting. In other words: it's perfect for a weeknight dinner party.
The night before: Juice your lemons and limes for your margaritas. Slice your pork shoulder for your carnitas into strips around 2 x 3/4th inches, and put them, covered, in the fridge. Make these pickled onions for the tacos; they'll need to rest overnight.
As soon as you get home from work: Get your pork and your water rolling on the stove. Now: leave it alone. Forget about it.
An hour before company comes: Make your citrus slaw -- I made enough to both garnish the tacos and to serve as a salad -- and put it in the fridge. Mash your onion, chile, salt, and cilantro together for the guacamole. Turn the heat up on the carnitas; the pork will start caramelizing. Enlist a friend to bring over crushed ice -- because no margarita is a real margarita without crushed ice.
When the guests arrive: Mash the avocados in with your chile/onion/cilantro paste, and serve to your hungry guests (make sure to reserve some in the fridge for the tacos). Wrap the corn tortillas in foil, and stick them in the oven to warm. When the pork is ready -- and by now, it should be -- set it out on the table with the slaw, pickled onions, tortillas, and hot sauce. Top off everyone's margarita glass.
After the taco rush is over: Get that fondue started -- it will take 20 minutes of simple, stove-top cooking. Serve with pretzels. Pour yourself another margarita. Taco night is complete.