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Author Notes: If you're like me, when you pursuing food you want authentic flavors. Mexican food is one of my favorite genres of food, but it wasn't always this way. I went to Mexico in High School for three weeks in the Summer. We roughed it for most of the trip. At one point we were attacked by howler monkeys at Mayan ruins in the rainforest accessible only by boat. Another time, while we were staying at a "hotel" of traditional Mayan huts we were woken up in the middle of the night by a major drug deal happening on the river that was just steps from our hut's door. The food was nearly impossible to eat. What decided to stay down was not impressive. Other than the tortillas handmade in a stranger’s back yard, we had the worst food. All I wanted was a hamburger but what I got were patties with peppers and onions incorporated, and salsa instead of ketchup. It put me off Mexican for years.
Until one day, on a date, I was brought to Chavella's in Brooklyn. The original establishment doesn't exist anymore, but that little room changed me. Here was authentic Mexican food with clean flavors, and eccentric dishes I could use to adventure. Cactus tacos, braised beef tongue, slow cooked mole! Each surprise was better than the last. But, with Mexican restored to my palate, I couldn't take TexMex anymore. Douse my flautas with crema, but don't you dare touch my dish with sour cream. Cheddar cheese? For the love of God give me queso fresco, cotija, or chihuahua. And so this is how I cook Mexican food, with an eye for authenticity and nothing else.
But every once and a while, there are those Americanized faux-Mexican dishes that are delicious. And sweet pork tacos are one of those things. I'm used to cooking my carnitas in a dutch oven with nothing but salt and water, but that brown, syrupy sweet, chewy meat in a crispy shell is sometimes too much to deny.
So, I'm chasing that flavor. Below is what I was able to come up with. If you're trying to impress someone with Authentic Mexican food, you'll make a fool of yourself. But if you want something to bring to a picnic, or eat after a long night out: here it is.
Richly sweet, with some authentic flavors, but mostly pretty American. —PeteF
- 3 pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder / Butt, cut into 2 inch cubes
- 5 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder (I use the seeds of Chipotle peppers that I run through a coffee grinder)
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (double this if you're a spice fiend)
- 1 teaspoon Cocoa Powder
- 1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
- Juice of 2 Limes
- 1 can of CocaCola
- 1 can of Light Beer
- In a CrockPot/slow cooker, put the pork, garlic, and all the dry seasonings. Mix everything up so that the pork is all evenly coated.
- Pour in the can of Coke. Pour in enough Beer to just cover the pork, no more. Pour the rest in your garden, if you don't wanna drink it.
- Turn the CrockPot on, set to Low for 7 - 8 hours.
- Remove the pork from the pot, and using two forks, or your hands, shred the pork.
- Reduce the cooking liquid until it thickens up enough to coat the pork - about 45min. Have this going while you're shredding the park. Before pouring it on to the pork, fish out the garlic cloves.
- Mix the sauce into the pork. Start with half, and taste as you go. You probably won't use all of it. Don't forget salt if it needs it.
- Serve on corn tortillas with fresh lime juice, cotija, and pickled red onions. Some crema and shaved iceberg lettuce if you're feeling extra sassy.
- For the purposes of a cheap meal, the photo features a super quick, easy version of a salsa fresca. I used 1 cup of canned plum tomatoes, 1/4 of an onion, a few cloves of garlic, half of a jalapeno (seeded and deribbed), generous amount of salt, and juice of half a lime all in a blender. Simple, easy, delicious, fresh tasting. Much cheaper than canned salsa, and much faster than chopping a bunch of veggies.