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
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 45 mins
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.
Spice rubs and chicken were just born for each other.
Especially when grilled or roasted on high heat.
The spices takes on a deliciously smoky accent, and the meat is piping hot and succulently juicy.
(Bonus points if you left the skin on & get to enjoy all that crispy goodness).
You’ve seen me do spice-rub baked chicken breasts, which I love for their ease and simplicity, but a whole bird slathered in rub & roasted on high heat?
That’s a whole new experience.
There are a few keys to deliciously juicy spice-rub chicken.
- The heat has to start out lower. Typically, I blast my roasted chickens on high heat to get that extra crispy golden skin. But when you’ve covered the bird with a spice rub, you’ve got be careful not to burn those spices. Since chickens take awhile to cook, it’s best to start out on low heat while the tender flesh cooks.
- Crank up the heat at the end. Once the bird is almost done, say, after an hour or so in the oven, then you can turn up the heat and let the skin crisp up and brown the spices a little.
- Stuff the cavity with aromatics. Since we aren’t going for the same cracklin skin that an unseasoned bird has, we can stuff that cavity of the bird until it’s overflowing. My favorites are lemon and shallot, which impart a slight onion & citrus flavor to the meat as they cook. I avoid stuffing the cavity on my basic roasted chickens, since the steam from the vegetables can hinder the crisping of the chicken skin, but I’m not worried about that w. my spice rubbed chicken.
- Let it rest after cooking. Once the bird reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees, let it rest out of the oven for a bit before you slice into it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, instead of spilling out all over your cutting board.
Once the bird is done, serve it with some delicious sides.
Grilled Zucchini with Mint, Lemon, & Feta, World’s Easiest Garlic Mashed Potatoes, or a Simple Side Salad all go great 🙂
Spice Rub Roasted Chicken
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
- 3 1/4 lb fryer chicken
- 2 small lemons, quartered
- 1 large shallot, quartered
- olive oil, for seasoning
For the spice rub:
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix together all of the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
Remove the chicken from any packaging it might be in, and discard any of the innards that might be in the cavity. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and set on a roasting rack inside of a roasting pan. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, and rub all over with your hands.
Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon and shallot, then sprinkle the chicken all over with the spice rub. Also use your fingers to separate the chicken skin from the breast area, and rub some of the spice rub under the skin. Use as much or as little of the rub as you want, to taste, probably around 1/4 cup. If you don't use all of the rub, you can reserve the extra for another use, if desired.
Place the roasting pan in the oven, and let the chicken roast for about 1 hour. Increase the heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and roast for another 30 minutes or so, or until the skin is crispy and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's not quite there yet after the 90 minutes, continue cooking until it reaches the proper temperature.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
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
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
- 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.