I have a question about the recipe "Slow-Cooked Pork Tacos" from merrill. Can I substitute a pork loin roast for the pork shoulder here?
It looks like the recipe helps a lot to have a bit of fat in the meat. The recipe even goes so far as to describe the meat as 'not to lean'. Pork loin tends to be very lean.
If I wanted to use pork loin instead of shoulder in this recipe, I would add about 3 or 5 rashers (slices for those of you in the US) of bacon, chopped, and then use less salt.
You can, yes, but you'll definitely want to cook it for less time, since loin is leaner than shoulder and could get tough. I'd check the meat frequently for tenderness and stop cooking it when you like the texture.
Using a pork loin in lieu of a pork shoulder is akin to using a beef tenderloin in lieu of a chuck roast. One of the reasons a pork shoulders and chuck roasts shred so nicely is that they are made up of many muscles and are therefore laced with fats and connective tissue. Loins and tenderloins are made up of very few muscles (often just one!) and therefore very little fat and connective tissue.
When the connective tissue is slowly warmed (as with a slow cooker or a real barbecue rig), most of the connective tissue melts away, allowing the meat to be shredded. At the same time, the fats render (melt), not only also making the meat much more shredable, but adding wonderful flavors to the meat as well.
Loins and tenderloins, whil tender and lean, are also somewhat tasteless. Thus you end up with bacon-wrapping or braising or other methods to add more flavor.
In the long run, yes, you could use a pork loin or tenderloin instead of a shoulder roast. It will not, however, have near the flavor nor will it shred easily. Save the more expensive tenderloin for fancier dishes and use a shoulder or butt roast for pulled pork! JMHO.