I just got back from Marfa, TX.
While there, I had some great pork tenderloin tacos. It was really a sandwich but they had a few tortillas laying around so I made them whip some tacos up for me. That's right, the Taco Maven can crack that taco whip with the best of them!
When I got home I remembered that I had 1/2 a lb. of pork shoulder in the freezer. I defrosted it and decided to make my own slow-baked pork filling. I could tell that I would basically make this dish differently every time, so I tried to remember what I did so I could post it here.
Sometimes this cut of meat is called pork 'butt.' It's not the butt. It's the shoulder and it's the preferred cut for Carnitas and Pastor. Carnitas is slow baked and then pan fried. Pastor is soaked in various spices, including red achiote usually, and then cooked on a spit like a Schawarma. This style of cooking meat came to Mexico via Spain via the Middle East. So yes, we have the Arabs to thank for the Pastor Taco!
I cut up one RED ONION into thin slices. I also cut up two APPLES. I peeled the skin off first. 4 cloves of GARLIC peeled and cut in half.
I used a Le Creuset. You need some kind of pan that is both stove top and oven worthy and has a top.
I rubbed some sea salt on the pork. I also added a healthy tsp. of cumin, a tsp. of chili powder, a bay leaf, some oregano (a pisca or healthy pinch of dried) and fresh black pepper. I crumbled some dry red chiles with the seeds (2 whole ones.)
I browned the pork on both sides over a med high flame until brown on all sides. I added the onions and the apples, turned the heat down and let the whole thing simmer in 1/4 cup of olive oil for about 30 min. Stir to make sure nothing sticks.
The magical ingredient was the LIPS OF FAITH Cocoa Mole beer. LOVE this stuff. You can get it at Whole Foods. Any dark, thick beer should work. If you can't find a chocolate flavored beer, add a tsp of UNSWEETENED cocoa powder to your beer in a cup and stir until powder dissolves.
After the 30 minute saute, I added about 1/2 a cup of beer. It fizzed and bubbled. I let it simmer another 20 min. Then another 1/2 cup of beer and into the oven, covered with the lid at 350.
After one hour, another splash of beer. You don't want too much liquid but it adds such great moisture and flavor to the meat. At this point I added the peeled garlic cloves.
Another hour at 300. Another 30-50 minutes after that at 200.
By the end you have a delicious, spicy, sticky mess that falls apart in your mouth. Very Carnitas-like. Make into a taco any way you like. Corn, or flour tortillas, salsa, avocado. I like to melt the cheese a little first on the tortilla.