The return of 24, my all-time favorite TV show in high school, happened to fall on Cinco de Mayo. A viewing party was a must, since my high school friends and I had spent far too many mornings in homeroom discussing the details of each and every episode. We needed to honor the fact that #JackIsBack, with a little Mexican flare (season 3 style, minus the Salazars).
Since Jack’s epic return fell on the most festive of holidays, my friend Allie decided to whip out her dutch oven for some slow-cooked pork (Carnitas), perfect for tacos (and night before quesadillas). But her impressive skills didn’t stop with the pork. She also made her own pickled onions and jalapenos for the festive occasion. There’s nothing better then homemade pickled vegetables to add a bit of homemade acidity and spice to the tacos.
A taco bar was staged, with the beautiful glistening pork as the star. After having been cooked low and slow the entire night before, the pork was placed under the broiler for a few minutes before serving to reheat and give it a little bit more of a crispy outside.
I had to remind myself the pork was for the tacos, as I kept eating pieces of pork alone, enjoying the tenderness of the delicious meat. We assembled our tacos, with homemade guacamole (splurging on the insanely expensive limes), pickled veggies, diced red onions, cilantro, and cheese as the condiments.
These tacos are phenomenal, and could rival any version sold in the numerous restaurants across the city. Any kind of taco night can be really fun, but when hours of prep work goes into the creation of the protein, it really becomes extraordinary.
I can’t take any credit for the creation of this remarkable homemade dinner. But I know for the future, with a little prep work, I hope to attempt to prepare something as fun, and as delicious as Allie’s pulled pork.
As a bonus, with the day before, or day after with left overs, you can make pretty remarkable late night quesadillas.
So here’s to impressive friends’ cooking skills. And Jack Bauer.
Similar recipe to Allie’s Pulled Pork:
Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated Cookbook
- 3 1/2-4 pounds boneless pork butt roast (sometimes called boneless pork shoulder or boneless picnic roast)
- 2+ cups water (enough to cover the pork in the pot)
- 1 white or yellow onion, peeled and halved
- 4-6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 bay leaves salt and pepper
- 1 orange
- Place the oven rack in the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Trim the pork of excess fat and cut into 2″ chunks
- Place the pork in a heavy lidded pot like a Dutch oven
- Add enough water to cover the pork
- Add onion, garlic, lime juice, red wine vinegar, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, and the juice from the orange
- After squeezing the juice from the orange, toss the rinds into the pork mixture and stir to combine
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally
- Cover the pot and transfer to the oven
- Cook for about 2 hours or until the pork falls apart when poked with a fork
- When the pork is fork-tender, remove the pot from the oven.
- Remove the orange rinds, onion, and bay leaves
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork from the liquid to the foil-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
- Return the pot to the stovetop and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat
- Boil for 8-15 minutes (longer or shorter if necessary) until the liquid is thickened and glaze-y and, when stirred, the spoon leaves a trail in the liquid (you should have about 1 cup of liquid).
- Use your fingers to pull apart the pork pieces, discarding any particularly fatty pieces (or removing the fat from them)
- Drizzle with the cooking liquid
- Turn your oven broiler on high and place the pork in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the pork starts to brown and the edges become crispy
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a spatula to flip the pork
- Return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes, broiling until the pork is browned and crispy (but not charred, unless that’s your thing)
- Serve in warmed tortillas with desired toppings