The most amazing things happened last weekend. 25 people, 7 dogs, and 5 blowup mattresses converged on our woodsy ‘cabin’ for 36-ish hours of Seahawks cheering and New Year’s toasting.
There was braised pork shoulder and loaded twice-baked casserole. There was a keg. We had cocktails. And, yours truly enjoyed a water power hour. We had pretzels, beer cheese, and a massive charcuterie spread that spanned our entire counter. There was a broccoli cheese bake which was unctuously dominated by cheese. We had rice, pickled onions, and sautéed corn with cojita.
We danced on the patio. We danced on the porch. We danced in front of the fire. I won a new soup ladle in the white elephant gift exchange, accumulated 20,726 steps (dilly dilly), and woke up with a headache worthy of going to bed in the wee hours.
It. Was. Good.
The following recipe isn’t one you can just throw together on a whim. It not only takes a day to marinade, but the spices aren’t ones you’ll typically have on hand. If you’re in the Seattle area, I found both the spices and banana leaves at Saar’s Super Saver Food’s in Renton. It’s not a fancy grocery store, but the prices are right.
As for the pork butt, Cash & Carry has the best price point for quality that I have found. The boneless pork butt comes in a package of two. Freeze the second one for later. Trust me. You’ll want to make this again.
Spice Rubbed Pork Tacos
Adapted from Ruth Reichl’s my kitchen year
3 TBS achiote seeds
4 whole cloves
2 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp coriander seeds
3 tsp peppercorns
3 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt to taste
8 garlic cloves
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
7-pound boneless pork butt
2 – 3 banana leaves
4 hot peppers, seeded and sliced
Pickled onions (optional)
Sautéed corn (optional)
Shredded white cheddar (optional)
Place spices through salt in a grinder or high-powered blender and blend into a fine powder. (We use our Vitamix. It works great.) Add garlic, vinegar, and juice from both limes. Blend until smooth.
Smear paste on pork butt, working it into all the crevices. Tightly wrap pork butt in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
(We like to lay out several pieces of plastic wrap on the counter creating a large surface. When we add the paste, we place the pork butt right on the plastic wrap, smear it good and then wrap it up. This helps keep the mess to a minimum.)
The next day, preheat oven to 325. Line a large Dutch oven with banana leaves, ensuring several of the leaves tops come up and over the edges enough that they can be folded down.
(To make the leaves more pliable, toast them over a gas stove or BBQ.)
Remove pork from plastic wrap. Place pork with the fat cap up, on top of the banana leaves. Place peppers on top of pork. Fold banana leaves over the top. Place the lid on the pot. Bake for 3 – 4 hours, until pork is fork tender.
(If you’re not quite ready to serve it yet, turn off the heat to the oven and let the pork rest until later.)
Remove from open. Remove large pieces of fat and discard. Shred meat in a large bowl and serve warm with tortillas, pickled onions, corn, cheese, and salsa.
(The easiest way to remove meat and shred it at the same time is with tongs. We simply pull the meat from the pot with the tongs, shredding it as we place it in the bowl. This also allowed us to easily remove large pieces of fat.)