04 February 2007
I Promise This is My Last Taco Post Ever.
After writing about a few delicious tacos I enjoyed in Guadalajara and Chicago, I should probably be finished with the taco topic and ready to move on to something else.
No! I can’t move on! One more taco post!
Maybe after today I’ll give it a rest.
It’s just that I can’t ever really stop thinking about tacos. In one bite, I have everything in my mouth that I could ever possibly need in life...a piece of corn tortilla, a morsel of flavorful meat, a slice of avocado, a crumble of queso fresco, a burst of cilantro...put a taco in front of my face, and all other worldly matters disappear as the taco becomes my entire universe.
It has become apparent to me that I am prone to exaggeration when it comes to tacos. I’m sorry, but I will make no apologies for my obsession.
Um...you can be sorry for not being sorry, right?
In any case, I do apologize for constantly raving about tacos when there are many people who don’t have access to a good taco joint. Especially one that serves tacos al pastor. If that is you, your worries are over. Fancy Toast offers you a delicious taco recipe that you can prepare in your own home. Sadly, this recipe is not for tacos al pastor. But happily, the deliciousness of these tacos might almost surpass that of tacos al pastor. Thank goodness, because how many people do you know who own their own taco al pastor roasting spit?
My friend Abbey and I created this recipe when we were preparing our New Year’s Feast. Actually, it was mostly Abbey who was the mastermind behind the deliciousness. The only contribution I can take credit for is the addition of alcohol and sugar. Are you surprised about that?
The meat was simmered in a bath of blended guajillo chiles, onions, and tequila until it became fork tender. After we shredded the meat, we added sugar and lime juice, and then (poof!) the magic ensued! There are no words for the utterly delightful flavors of that meat. I say ‘flavors’ in the plural form because there was such a depth of flavors that my tastebuds could not decide what to focus on. Sweet, spicy, salty, smokey...there was even a bitterness from the the chiles that was quite lovely.
I am at a loss to describe the taste of this taco meat. I think that maybe even Rick Bayless might be at a loss for words, and I don’t know if that man is ever at a loss for words. Sorry Rick Bayless, that was mean. I love you Rick Bayless. You have changed my life. Abbey and I could never have created this recipe without all the knowledge you have imparted to us.
12 dried guajillo or ancho chiles
3 onions, roughly chopped
4-5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup tequila
1/2 cup lime juice, divided
2 lbs. meat of your choice (pork shoulder or loin is delicious, but I have also successfully used chicken breast and thighs)
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup cane sugar (white or brown sugar will also work)
Over high heat in a large pot, toast the chiles for about thirty seconds on each side until they turn lighter in color. Do not allow them to burn.
Once cool, cut off the stems and scrape out the seeds.
Put chiles in a bowl of hot water and soak for 10-15 minutes. It helps to put a plate over the chiles so that they are completely submerged. Reserve one cup of the soaking liquid.
In a blender, pulse the onions, garlic, chiles, and 1 cup of the reserved soaking liquid. Do not purée.
The mixture should reach a slightly chunky consistency.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in the pot. Add the contents of the blender, the tequila, one tablespoon of salt, and 1/4 cup lime juice. Cook for five minutes.
Add the meat. If you are using a large chunk of meat, you can dump it in there in one piece, or cut it into two or three smaller pieces.
Add enough chicken broth so that the meat is mostly submerged. You might not use all six cups of broth.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the meat is fork-tender. Depending on the type and cut of meat, this can take between 40-90 minutes.
Remove meat and allow to cool. Using two forks or your fingers, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, tend to the sauce. If it is watery, increase the heat to let some of the liquid evaporate. This might take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes.
Now the magic happens. Taste the sauce. Bitter, isn’t it?
Add sugar and stir. Taste again. Completely different! Somehow the sugar brings out other flavors that you couldn’t taste under the bitterness.
Add salt and lime juice to taste.
Add the shredded meat.
Spoon the meat onto a warm tortilla. Add as many other garnishes as you like, such as crumbled queso fresco, chopped onions, cilantro, avocado slices, radishes, beans, tomatoes, etc.
This makes alot of taco meat. It freezes well, so make it all and then use it later!
This meat can also be used as fillings for other Mexican dishes: tamales, enchiladas, tostadas, etc.