Friday, October 23, 2009
My Ventures into Pork Fajitas
Beef fajitas. Chicken fajitas. Fish fajitas. Vegetarian fajitas. Pork fajitas – I love 'em all! In restaurants, I especially love when they are brought to your table on those cast iron plates and everything is still sizzling away. The veggies and meat often have a little char on the edges. Oh, geez. I'm making myself hungry! In general, I enjoy ordering foods in restaurants that I get to play with. You know, like Chinese hot pot or Beijing duck. Or Korean bulgogi or galbi. With fajitas, I get to put some meat and veggies on a fresh tortilla with my choice of fixings.
Was I in the mood for pork fajitas when I made this? Not really. However, pork shoulder was on sale for US$1.29 a pound so that's all the incentive I needed. I wasn't in the mood for pork shoulder – that is until I smelled it baking. OOOHHH, MY! For HOURS, you have to endure the most incredible aroma coming from your stove. I couldn’t escape it. I tried to take my mind off of it by working on my computer. I couldn't concentrate. I tried watching a little TV. Mexican restaurant commercials filled the airways. My neighbor down the hall even smelled it and insisted on having some for dinner. This is not my inconsiderate neighbor who slams his apartment door every time he comes and goes. Or the neighbor who sounds like he's moving furniture at 2:00 a.m. when his girlfriend stays over. Or the chain smoker. Or the stoner. Or the cross-dresser. Or the cross-dressing, chain-smoking stoner. The guy who knocked on my door is the ONE guy who lives on my floor who seems boringly normal. He's probably a serial killer.
Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, yeah. Fajitas. I know it takes a while to make this dish but it is absolutely worth it. You'll have plenty of leftovers to share with the serial killers next door. Enjoy – and happy fajita-making!
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Pulled Pork Fajitas
7 lbs pork shoulder
1 1/2 TBSP onion powder
1 1/2 TBSP garlic powder
2 TBSP cumin
2 TBSP dried oregano, rubbed between your fingers
2 1/2 TBSP kosher salt (1 1/4 TBSP table salt)
2 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 TBSP white vinegar
6 TBSP olive oil (one that you like the taste of)
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, sliced into half moons and rings separated
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/3" strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
About 1 tsp of the reserved spice rub
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Small flour tortillas, warmed per the package instructions
Optional Toppings: Sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, tomatoes, slices of limes, your favorite cheese, etc.
Day Before Serving: Trim the pork shoulder of some (but not all) of the fat. If desired, you may leave all of the fat on. With the fat side up, cut the pork into three pieces. Most pork shoulders have a bone on one end of the roast. This means that you will not be able to cut the shoulder into three even pieces – but that's OK. If your butcher has already removed the bone, great! Otherwise, leave the bone in. Trust me, the bone will easily fall out on its own when the pork is done cooking.
For the rub, mix all of the dry ingredients together. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the dry mixture for the veggies. It's easy to forget to reserve that tablespoon of dry rub so make every effort to remember.
To the remaining rub, add the vinegar and olive oil and mix well. Rub the mixture all over the meat – and I mean RUB IT IN. Get rough with that pork and let it know who's boss. Place the pork in a roasting pan (fat side up), cover, and refrigerate AT LEAST overnight. It's even better after marinating for 24 hours.
On the Day of Serving: Take the roasting pan out of the refrigerator and set it on the counter while the oven is preheating. Preheat the oven to 275F. Make sure the roasting pan is tightly covered in aluminum foil. Bake the pork for about 5 hours. Take the roasting pan out of the oven and increase the temperature to 375F. Remove the foil from the roasting pan and use a spoon to baste the pork with some of the drippings on the bottom of the pan. Bake, uncovered, another 45 minutes to allow the meat to brown.
Remove the pan from the oven, cover it with foil, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. After the pork has rested, take it out of the roasting pan and pull the pork into bite-size pieces.
When the pork is resting, cut the onions, bell pepper, and garlic.
To prepare the veggies, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil or use some of the drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan. When hot, add the onions and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until they are starting to char. Add the bell pepper and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic, 1 tsp of the reserved dry spice mixture, and the juice of 1/2 a lime. Mix well and cook 1 minute.
To serve, add some of the pulled pork to a warmed tortilla. Add some of the veggies and your favorite toppings.
Notes: This tastes even BETTER the next day. You reserved enough of the dried spice mixture to make another 2 batches of veggies for leftovers. The next day, just make another batch of veggies, reheat the meat, and you have quick and easy leftovers.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 5:54 AM