It’s taco night every night up in this house.
Whenever we have leftover roasted pork or packages of ground beef or turkey tucked away in the freezer, my go-to is TACOS!
And sometimes simple street tacos are what hit the spot.
No need for fancy schmancy toppings.
The savory carnitas take center stage, simply highlighted with salsa verde, white onion, fresh cilantro, and a pop of lime.
The key to perfect tacos at home is lightly pan-frying the tortillas.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, under any circumstances, serve the tortillas raw. Blech!
You’ll end up with chalky bland tortillas that crack and break into pieces as you try to eat.
Instead, take a few minutes to warm the tortillas in a pan with a little oil. They’ll get slightly crisp, and take on a beautiful golden color. Instead of tearing, they’ll remain nice and tender and perfect for stuffing with carnitas.
You can totally customize this recipe to serve even more people.
Just estimate roughly 1 hour of slow-cooking in the oven per pound of meat.
These tacos are the perfect Sunday football party fare!
Carnitas Street Tacos
Servings: 16 tacos
- 4 pounds bone-in skin-on pork shoulder
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or other high heat oil, divided, plus additional for cooking the tortillas
- 1 package of organic corn tortillas (30 count)
- Favorite verde salsa - homemade or store bought
- 1 white onion, minced
- 1 bunch cilantro, minced
- 6 limes, quartered
Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with a liberal amount of salt and pepper on all sides, including the skin side.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the pork shoulder sit at room temperature while the oven preheats.
When the oven is preheated, place a heavy bottomed lidded pot (I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven) on the stove top. Add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil and warm over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the pork shoulder, fat side down, and cook on that side until nicely golden brown. Rotate the pork to the next side, and continue, until all the sides and end pieces are nicely browned.
When the pork is browned all over, rotate the pork so the skin side is facing up, and place the lid on the pot. Put the dutch oven inside the oven, and let cook without moving for about 4 hours, until the outside of the pork is deeply browned, and the meat is fall apart tender. If the skin is not yet dark brown and crispy, increase the heat to 500 degrees and let cook with the lid off the pan, until it is crispy.
Remove from the oven, and let the pork rest for 30 minutes. Remove the crispy skin and set aside. Then, use two large forks or your fingers to pull the pork apart into pieces and then shred into bite-sized pieces. Chop the crispy skin into small pieces and toss into the shredded meat as well.
Next, add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil to a large skillet and warm over high heat. Add the shredded pork & let it cook for a few minutes without stirring until some of the pieces get nice and crispy. Remove from the skillet into a serving bowl.
Next, in a small skillet, pour enough grapeseed oil to form a thin layer in the pan. Warm over high heat. Using tongs, add one corn tortilla to the pan. Let it cook briefly on one side until the tortilla starts to puff up. Flip over and cook briefly on the other side until lightly golden but still pliable. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and continue with the desired number of tortillas (16 or 20 should be perfect). Continue to add oil as needed to keep a light coating in the pan.
When the tortillas are done, you're ready to assemble the tacos! Place some of the pork carnitas in the center of a tortilla, spoon some salsa verde over the top, and sprinkle with minced onion and cilantro. Squeeze fresh lime over the top and serve right away.
Lettuce wraps make perfect summer night dinners.
First of all, they’re easy…
Like, wash off some lettuce, quickly cook up some meat, toss in some herbs, and whisk together a basic sauce and you’re done.
Plus, you can do so many different flavor twists.
Mexican, Thai, Indian, etc… they would all be delicious.
This week, I decided to go Thai.
These wraps are bright, fresh, and packed with flavor.
Simply saute some pork and garlic until golden brown, then turn off the heat and toss in some fresh basil, cilantro, mint, onion, and fresh peppers.
Stuff the pork mixture into crisp butter lettuce leaves, and spoon a simple sauce over top, made with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and more chiles.
The results are little pockets of deliciousness, packed with tender meat, fresh herbs, spicy chiles, vibrant fresh lime juice, and salty fish sauce.
I really like serving them with a giant bowl of fried rice on the side. Recipe coming soon!
Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 red serrano or jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground pork
- 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup torn fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
Carefully remove the butter lettuce leaves from the head of lettuce, wash with cool water, and set out to dry on a towel.
Next, assemble the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and 1 of the sliced peppers. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned (about 10 minutes or so). Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, until softened and fragrant.Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, basil, cilantro, mint, and remaining pepper slices.
Serve family style, with the pork mixture, lettuce leaves, and dipping sauce. To assemble, spoon the pork into a lettuce leaf and either dip the wraps into the sauce or spoon over the top before eating.
Have you ever tried speck?
It’s basically my new favorite charcuterie meat.
Speck is essentially smoked prosciutto.
So you get that tender salty meat, with a nice smoky flavor on the back end. It goes great with creamy goat cheese or mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and grilled bread.
It also goes GREAT wrapped around a giant pork loin & baked until crispy.
It’s like bacon-wrapped meat, but better, because it’s thinner and less fatty so it gets nice and crisp.
And how can you take it to an even better level?
Schmear some garlic herb butter on it.
The basic process for making a killer pork loin is as follows:
- First, get a nice sear on the meat. Pat the loin dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. Then pan sear it over high heat until the loin has a nice golden color on all sides (this adds tons of flavor!)
- Let it rest for a sec, then slather with flavored butter. I used a mixture of butter flavored with salt, pepper, lemon zest, garlic, and basil.
- Wrap the whole thing in tons of speck. Wrapping the loin in the speck last helps trap the butter against the meat, encouraging it to soak in and flavor each bite. It also gets nice and golden and crispy while it bakes.
- Let it rest after it’s done baking. This helps the juices redistribute and absorb into the meat, so the juices don’t go spilling everywhere when you slice it.
And that’s pretty much it!
When the loin is done, just slice it carefully into crosswise slices and make sure you get all those crispy pieces that might fall off when you cut it!
This meal goes great with simple sides like The World’s Easiest Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas, or Pan Sauteed Mushrooms.
Speck Wrapped Pork Loin with Garlic Herb Butter
- 4 pound pork loin
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper, for seasoning
- Splash of grapeseed oil or other high-heat friendly oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed with a garlic press or finely minced
- 2 heaping tablepsoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 25 or so thin slices of speck (smoked prosciutto) (enough to cover the pork loin)
Pat the pork loin dry with paper towels, then season well on all sides with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Add two tablespoons of oil to a large heavy pan (preferably cast iron) and warm over high heat. Add the pork loin to the pan and sear a few minutes on each side, turning as needed, until the pork develops a nice golden color on all sides and ends.
Remove the pork loin from the pan and let it rest/cool while you prepare the herb butter.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put the softened butter in a small bowl, and use a fork to mash it together with the garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
When the pork has cooled enough so that you can comfortably touch it, place it on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Use your hands to rub the butter mixture all over the top of the pork loin.
Next, starting at one end of the pork loin and working your way to the other, lay the slices of speck across the pork, tucking any loose ends underneath the sides of the loin. Let the speck slices overlap slightly as you lay them across the pork. They will shrink when they crisp up, so you want the slices overlapping to avoid any weird gaps in the final product.
Place the pork in the oven and roast for about an hour and a half, or until the center of the loin reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit (use a ThermaPen or other instant read thermometer to check).
When the loin is done cooking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. The rest will allow the roast finish cooking and to allow the juices to redistribute.
When the loin is done resting, slice it carefully into crosswise slices, taking care to serve the crispy speck pieces with each slice.