Monday, March 7, 2011

The misadventures of pork tacos

Let me preface this post by saying Oh. Dear. God.

About a week ago I went out for Mexican with my sister and had some great carnitas tacos. Those tacos have been haunting me ever since. They were so good. They came with this great dipping sauce. Last night I decided I had to have some, so I started a carnitas mixture in my crockpot. Ohh, this dish had so much potential. Crockpot = food cooking itself. Tacos... pork... how can you go wrong?

I started with a quart of homemade chicken stock. My stock doesn't have any salt added, so I went ahead and added some.

Then, a full bunch of cilantro was chopped and went into the pot.

I added a few tablespoons of lime juice, green salsa, and garlic.

You should mince 2-3 cloves of garlic. I'm still waiting for my store to get normal garlic in.

If you can't find green salsa, you could probably use whatever you had. We get the green kind because it's cheaper. Most of the recipes I looked at before I took on this endeavor called for green, so it all worked out.

Next, husband grated half of a yellow onion.
At this point I went and played FarmVille. I can barely chop an onion, let alone be in the room when someone else is grating one.

Next, I grabbed some fresh oregano from my sad oregano plant. He's sad because it's March and still snowing. He'll feel better when he can go outside. I probably should have used more, but I didn't want to hurt the plant by taking too much. This was chopped and added to the pot.

And some red pepper flakes went into the pot too.

This went into the fridge over night so that it would be ready before work on Monday morning.

Monday morning arrived, and I pulled out my pork roast.
(I defrost all of my meat in plastic grocery bags so that if they leak it doesn't get all over the fridge).

I should have cut all of that extra fat off, but I didn't. You can.

Pork went into the chicken broth mixture and cooked on low from 7 a.m. until noon.

At noon I flipped the roast over and let it cook on the other side. When I pulled the roast out at 4 p.m. It looked like this.

I stuck it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so that it would be cool when I shredded it. I hate shredding meat and I usually end up using my fingers. I put the broth mixture on the stove and let it boil down for 30 minutes until it was reduced by half. I know that most pros wouldn't reuse cooking liquid that had at one time had raw meat in it, but in my opinion nothing can survive boiling for 30 minutes. This reduced liquid was going to be my wonderful dipping sauce like the sauce at the restaurant. And now it was full of delicious pork juices. (Please note, I'm not encouraging you to consume liquid that has had raw meat in it at one time. It was MY game plan, but does not have to be yours.)

I pulled the meat out of the fridge and started to shred it. Crapola, it was still pink inside. 10 hours in the crock pot and the less than 2 lb roast was still pink inside.

I called my mother-in-law, and she confirmed what I was thinking. The shredded meat went back into the reduced broth mixture and cooked for five more minutes. It then went into my colander when I did my best to squeeze the juice out. At this point all of the cilantro, oregano, green tomatoey bits, and red pepper flakes were stuck to the pork and all that was left in the juice was broth. I didn't really feel like dipping my tacos in broth, so I scrapped the whole dipping sauce plan.

I served my pork taco on a whole wheat tortilla, gotta eat your whole grains kids, with slices of monterey jack cheese, avocado, and tomato.
This was the nastiest taco I've ever had in my life. It tasted like eating socks. There was no flavor whatsoever. What happened to the slow cooking in the broth with the herbs and such? No idea. I was left with nasty.

I ate the thing with the hope that I'd be able to add some salt and cumin to the pork and everything would be fine. I don't know why I didn't add cumin before. It's my favorite seasoning. I then added more cheese, green salsa, and sour cream to my second taco. I couldn't finish it. It was just gross. I cleansed my pallet by eating some homemade caramel while I cleaned up the kitchen. Then I ate 2 cookies, drank some milk, and a large cup of cinnamon tea. I'm still slightly nauseous.

From now on, I promise to leave the carnitas to the professionals. Usually, when I fail a recipe, I like to go back after my taste buds have recovered and do it the right way. This was such an epic failure I'm not sure if I'll ever go back. But there's a lesson here for all of us. While I failed on a legendary level tonight, I still tried. Everyone, EVERYONE, fails in the kitchen sometimes. You cannot get better if you have no mistakes to learn from. I will never cook a roast in chicken broth again. That was my lesson tonight. And I have the experience in my pocket to contribute to every dish I make from here on out. But if I had said, no I don't know how to make pork tacos that sounds too hard, I wouldn't have had the cathartic experience in the kitchen and I wouldn't have had the learning experience either. And the more failures I make, the more lessons I learn so that my cooking gets better everyday.

1 comment:

  1. It's things like this that will make you glad to live in civilization and close to good restaurants in a few months!

    You're right, everyone messes up in the kitchen (remember my freak out over the "welcome home uncle joey" cake?) and now you have learned a few things not to do. It's part of life, and I imagine that if you give this experience a little time you could try pork tacos again.