Brenda’s Birthday Carnitas Tacos

Paired with Chev Pinot Noir

  • carnitas see recipe below
  • pickled red onion see recipe below
  • queso fresco-salsa verde cream see recipe below
  • pork braised tomatoes see recipe below

  • 3 serrano peppers, sliced thin
  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
  • olive oil as needed
  • tortillas: you can choose corn or flour, soft or crispy! We will be doing Brenda’s favorite crispy corn tortillas.
  1. Add the pickled onions, serrano peppers, cucumbers, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon sea salt to a small mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy bottom sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil to smoking point.
  3. Place a ½" even layer of pork across the bottom of the pan. Cook the pork for 2-3 minutes before stirring.
  4. Continue to cook the pork, occasionally stirring, until the pork is crispy.
  5. Remove the pork from the pan and place it on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 until all the pork is cooked crisp.
  7. To build your taco: place the carnitas into the crispy tortilla, place the pickled onion mixture on top of the carnitas, spoon the pork braised tomatoes on top of the pickled onions, and drizzle the queso fresco-salsa verde cream over the top of the taco.

Carnitas Recipe

  • 4 pounds skinless, boneless pork shoulder or butt
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 orange, juiced
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and finely diced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper, fresh ground
  1. In a small bowl, mix the oregano, cumin, black pepper, salt, and chili powder together.
  2. Rub the spice mixture generously on the entire pork shoulder and place in the slow cooker.
  3. Top with pork with the onion, minced garlic, jalapeño, and orange juice in the slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on the low setting for 8-10 hours. The pork should be tender and nearly falling apart.
  5. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a large cutting board, using two forks to shred the meat. Don't get rid of the liquid as you will be using it later.

Queso Fresco-Salsa Verde Cream Recipe

  • 1/2 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 1 jalapeño, stem removed
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped, rinsed under water
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • 2 cups sour cream
  1. Preheat the broiler to high heat; place oven rack about 4 inches beneath the broiler.
  2. Place the tomatillos and jalapeño on a baking sheet. Roast under the broiler until well charred, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Mix the tomatillos. Roast until well charred again, about 3-4 more minutes.
  4. Add the roasted tomatillos, jalapeño, and all the juices from the baking sheet to a food processor.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients and purée until smooth.
  6. Pour the salsa into a large mixing bowl and set aside until it’s cooled to room temperature. Note: refrigerating the salsa will speed up this process.
  7. When the salsa is fully cooled, whisk in the queso fresco and the sour cream.

Pickled Red Onions Recipe

  • 3 red onion, peeled, cut in half keeping the eye intact
  • 2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tbsp tequila
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf
  1. Using a mandoline, thinly slice the onions into half-moons.
  2. Heat the vinegar, water, tequila, cinnamon, garlic, kaffir lime leaf, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 1 minute. Let cool and pour over the onions.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then store the onions in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Strain the onions before serving.
  5. Save the pickling liquid as it can be used in different applications.

Pork Braised Tomatoes

  • 4 cups carnitas braising liquid
  • 3 each large heirloom tomatoes, medium diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, whole leaves, no stem
  • 1 cup parsley. whole leaves, no stem
  1. In a medium sauce pot on high heat, reduce the carnitas braising liquid to 1 cup.
  2. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Occasionally stirring, cook the tomatoes until it is a salsa-like consistency.
  4. Cool to room temperature. Note: refrigerating the salsa will speed up this process.
  5. Mix in the cilantro and parsley before serving.