Asian Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw

Asian Style pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw

The other day at the grocery store there was a package of pork at a very reduced price, so I grabbed it, never knowing exactly what I might make. It was getting past its prime so looked for a recipe online.

America’s Test Kitchen has yet to let me down for a good result, so this one looked interesting and it was very tasty.  My husband prefers flour tortillas, so I bought the fresh ones from our local Central Market, where they make them while you watch.  I have yet to find a good source for homemade corn tortillas.  If anyone has a local source please share it with me.

I threw the ingredients in the slow cooker about noon, and it was ready for dinner.  I have an All-Clad slow cooker that cooks much more evenly than any other I have used.  It is worth the extra money to have no burn spots.

Slow-Cooker Asian-Style Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear and Cucumber Slaw

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

This incredibly easy and multidimensional recipe features tender shredded pork, flavorful sauce, and a crunchy pickled slaw. We found that we could make a sauce and season our pork all at once by combining hoisin, ginger, and Sriracha in the slow cooker. Boneless country-style pork ribs were a great choice for the slow cooker; after a few hours of braising, they were moist and extra-tender. We let the cooked pork rest briefly before shredding it and stirring it back into the sauce. To add freshness and crunch to our tacos, we made a quick pickled slaw while the meat cooked. A simple combination of Asian pears, carrots, and cucumber tossed with rice vinegar provided the perfect balance to our rich taco filling. A little bit more sesame oil and Sriracha in the slaw brought together the flavors of the dish while keeping it light and fresh.

INGREDIENTS

2 Asian pears, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ cup  hoisin sauce
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1 ½ pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed of all visible fat
  Salt and pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
12 (6-inch)  corn tortillas, warmed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine pears, carrots, cucumber, and vinegar in bowl; set aside until ready to serve.
  2. Microwave onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon oil, and ginger in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in hoisin, water, and 1 teaspoon Sriracha. Nestle pork into slow cooker, cover, and cook until pork is tender, 2 to 3 hours on low.
  3. Transfer pork to carving board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks, discarding excess fat. Stir shredded pork into sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, remaining 1 teaspoon Sriracha, and cilantro to pear and cucumber slaw and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide shredded pork among warm tortillas and top with slaw. Serve.

 

Asian Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw

Mandoline or Finger Guillotine

Every chef should have a mandoline for super thin slicing or for making fun waffle shapes.  I have had mine for several years and don’t use too often.  Tonight I wanted to slice some radishes very thin for a Carnitas dish I was making.  I sort of forgot one part, and attempted to slice holding the radish.  The first couple were fine, but with the third my mandoline became my finger guillotine, so I could show you how I feel about it this evening.  That is not a happy face.

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Dang, ruined the sauce on my Mexican Carnitas recipe as the sauce burned so much it set off the alarm and put a wonderful black patina on my Le Creuset  Baking dish.  The dish is over 40 years old and I am sad to say has seen this happen before.  It survives every time.  Had to make a quick run to the bandage drawer and left it on the stove (on high temperature) to destroy the sauce.  The smoke alarm went off and reminded me I had more than an injured finger, I had a fire on my stove. Don’t worry, house is intact.

mandoline

Note the large black holder in he right hand, well guess I forgot it and now have a slightly shorter finger.  This is when you have to laugh at yourself.  Here is the recipe and it was quite yummy even without the sauce.  But I am sure it would have been better,  but the crunch of the radishes was perfect in this recipe.  I added avocado as it is in season.  My husband ate his in flour tortillas, as he does not like corn.

Mexican Carnitas Recipe

America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients

PORK
1 (3½- to 4-pound) boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to ⅛ inch thick, cut into
2-inch chunks
1 small onion, peeled and halved
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano [I prefer to use 1/4 tsp next time]
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp juice from 1 lime
1 medium orange, halved
2 cups water
2 bay leaves

TORTILLAS AND GARNISHES
18 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges
Fresh cilantro leaves [a definite must have]
Thinly sliced radishes
Minced white or red onion
Sour cream

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about ⅓ cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.
  2. Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heatsafe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid.
  3. Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Place baking sheet on lower-middle rack and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, flip pieces of meat and continue to broil until top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Serve immediately with garnishes and warm tortillas.

detail_SFS_Slow_Cooker_Carnitas-16

So now with all that said I think it is time for my second glass of wine.  Yeah, I think my finger deserves another glass.

Mandoline or Finger Guillotine