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RECIPE: Slow Cooked Pork Tacos

Celebrate National taco Day, October 4th, with this recipe from Melissa’s The Great Pepper Cookbook.

Prep time is 30 minutes, total time is 3 hours, 50 minutes.

The recipe is made in a Dutch oven, but you can easily make it in a slow cooker.


Ingredients For 12 One-Cup Servings

  • 3 dried pasilla negro chile peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 5 dried New Mexico chile peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 5 dried de arbol chile peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¼ onion, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons ground cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 pounds bone-in pork butt roast
    Basic Garnishes

  • Avocado slices
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh salsa
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Red onion, chopped
  • Sour cream
  • Tortillas and/or taco shells
    More Garnishes

  • Jalapeno, sliced
  • Jicama, shredded
  • Lime wedges
  • Radishes, sliced

    [1] Slow-cooked pork tacos (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

    Pork Butt
    [2] Pork butt, also called Boston butt (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Pork Shoulder
    [3] Pork shoulder, also called picnic shoulder (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    1. BRING 6 cups water just to boiling in a large saucepan. Add the dried chiles and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Drain the chiles over a bowl and discard 2 cups of the chile water. Retain the remaining water and chiles.

    2. HEAT the oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

    3. COMBINE the chiles and their water in a large bowl with the onion mixture, broth and next 5 ingredients (through cumin). Place half of chile mixture in a blender, taking special care: The hot food expands rapidly, causing a risk of scalding.

    To be safe, before blending remove the center piece of the blender lid to allow the steam to escape, secure the lid on the blender, and place a towel over opening in the lid to avoid splatters. Process until smooth. Repeat the procedure with the remaining chile mixture.

    4. HEAT a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the pork, fat side down; cook until browned, turning several times, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chile mixture, and bring just to boiling. Reduce the heat and partially cover. Simmer until the pork easily pulls apart with a fork, about 3 to 4 hours.

    5. REMOVE the pork from the heat and let it cool until it can be handled, about 30 minutes. Shred the pork and serve with the fixings with warm tortillas.
    Here’s the history of tacos.

    Pork butt has nothing to do with the butt—the rear end or behind—of the pig. The rear of the pig becomes ham (including prosciutto and serrano hams).

    Instead, pork butt is a cut from the shoulder of the pig. But it isn’t the same as pork shoulder.

  • Pork butt, also called Boston butt [photo #2], comes from the thicker section of the shoulder. The meat is more intensely marbled, giving it a richer mouthfeel. It is easy to shred when slowly-cooked, and is popular for barbecue and shredded pork.
  • Pork Butt got its name in Colonial times. As less popular cuts of the pig, the butt and shoulder were packed into casks or barrels, also called butts, to ship out. The name “Boston butt” caught on.
  • Pork shoulder, also called picnic shoulder [photo #3], is from the thinner end of the shoulder. The cut is used for meat that is cooked to hold its shape, and will be sliced or chopped.

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