I’m not sure where my love of Mexican cuisine began, but it is no doubt my favorite cuisine. “Authentic,” not authentic, Tex Mex, Cal-Mex, it’s all my favorite. I’m lucky that my family likes things on the spicy side, so it gives me plenty of room to experiment with recipes using a variety of fresh and dried chilies, salsas and more. I trained them well, I suppose.
Since today is Cinco de mayo and Taco Tuesday, it is no big surprise in my house that we are having my favorite Carnitas Tacos with all the fixings. But, when those two fall during a pandemic and we are all home together, it’s a quiet feast in the backyard, just the 5 of us. The majority of the cooking is very hands-off — it just takes a bit of planning as the pork marinates overnight and the black beans as well as the rice for horchata both benefit from a good long overnight soak.
Mezcal con Pepino (search for recipe on website)
Guacamole and Chips
Homemade Flour Tortillas
Drunken Black Beans
I cannot wait until it’s safe to gather again… I need to make this menu for friends and family! For now, I say cheers to my favorite people and thankful we have this time at home together.
These pork carnitas tacos are at the top of my most favorite foods. They are adapted from the famed tacolicious cookbook by Sara Deseran — one of my favorite cookbooks in my growing collection. The majority of this dish is completely hands off and with the crisping happening under the broiler rather than fried, it's full of flavor, not grease. We take the time to make homemade tortillas which takes this meal over the top delicious. It feeds a crowd, or in my house, a meal and some rockin' leftovers.
- 4-4½ lbs pork shoulder cut into 1½-2 inch chunks; bone reserved
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, skins removed and smashed
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 strips orange zest
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½-1 tsp dried red chili flake
- 1 cinnamon stick optional
The night before: Combine all ingredients in a large heavy pot with a lid. Toss to coat and place covered pot in the refrigerator overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 300°. Give the pork a toss so it is evenly covered with marinade and place covered pot in the oven for 3 hours. Be sure to give the pork a quick stir once or twice over the 3 hours. When the pork is tender and pulls apart easily, remove from oven.
To crisp the pork: Move rack near the top of the oven and turn on broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack in the pan. Spray the rack with nonstick spray. Using tongs, remove the pork pieces from the pot and place on the rack, giving space between pieces if possible. Be sure to remove any large chunks of fat. Keep a close eye on the pork, broil until desired crispiness.
Serve pork with tortillas, cilantro, radish, cilantro, hot sauce and lime wedges.