Smoky Shredded Pork Tacos
1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch cubes
5 garlic cloves, unpeeled, divided use
1 large white onion, diced, divided use
2-3 dried, stemmed chipotle chilies or canned chipotle chilies en adobo; see cook’s notes
1 generous lb. (2 large round or 7-8 plum) ripe tomatoes
2 1/2 T. olive or vegetable oil or lard, divided use
Salt, about a scant 1/2 t.
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. black pepper, preferably freshly ground
1/8 t. ground cloves, preferably freshly ground
1/2 C. raisins
1/2 C. slivered almonds
16-18 warm corn tortillas (plus a few extra, in case some break)
In a medium size (2-3 quart) saucepan, cover meat with heavily salted water. Peel and roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic and add along with half of the onion. Bring to a gentle boil, skim off any grayish foam that rises during the first few minutes, partially cover and simmer over medium-low until thoroughly tender, about 1 1/2 hours. If time permits, cool the meat in the broth. Shred it between your fingers or with two forks held back to back. (There will be about 4 cups of meat; reserve broth for soup, if desired).
Prepare the Quick Cooked Tomato Chipotle Sauce. For dried chilies, roast them on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, turning regularly and pressing flat until very aromatic, about 30 seconds. In a small bowl, cover chilies with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water. If using canned chilies, they only need to be removed from the can.
3. Roast the remaining 3 cloves garlic on a griddle or skillet, turning occasionally until soft, about 15 minutes; cool and peel. Roast tomatoes on baking sheet 4 inches below heated broiler until charred, about 6 minutes. Turn and roast on the other side, 2-3 minutes. Cool, then peel, collecting all juices with the tomatoes.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse tomatoes, chilies and garlic to medium-fine puree. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil or lard in heavy, medium-size saucepan over medium-high. Add puree and stir for 5 minutes as it sears and thickens. Taste and season with salt.
Prepare the picadillo. In a large, heavy, well-seasoned or nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil or lard over medium-high. When hot, add shredded meat and remaining half of onion. Fry, stirring frequently, until crispy and golden, 12-14 minutes. Add cinnamon, peppers, cloves and raisins. Add tomato-chipotle sauce. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until nearly all liquid has evaporated, 4-5 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds in a small baking pan until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add them to picadillo mixture. Taste mixture and season with salt if necessary.
Guests will spoon portion of filling into warm tortilla.
Provide hot sauce for those who prefer a more picante dish.
Advance preparation: This filling can be prepared 2 days in advance and refrigerated well-sealed. Reserve and refrigerate a little of the cooking broth; add a little of it when reheating the mixture.
Yield: 4 cups, enough for 16-18 tacos
Optional: hot sauce
Cook’s note: Canned chipotle chilies in adobo are sold in Hispanic markets and many supermarkets. Chipotle chilies are smoked, ripened jalapeno chilies.