Pulled pork tacos -colourful, vibrant and bursting with pulsating Cajun attitude. Tender strips of pulled pork in a rich and spicy tomato gravy, wrapped in warm, flour tortillas and topped with tangy pineapple and mango salsa. A sensational feast that’s built for casual sharing, with flavours and colours that dazzle. Serve these tacos with funky cocktails and plenty of napkins!
Slow cooking is a sure-fire way of avoiding dry, tasteless meat and is quite possibly one of the best cooking methods to concentrate flavours. Oven roasting will reduce the liquid slowly as opposed to the direct heat of stove top cooking. Pork is an extremely versatile cut of meat and well suited to fruit pairings. I can think of some wonderful classics. A British favourite is pork and apples, whereas here in SA, a traditional autumnal pork roast with quinces is worth waiting for. The Eastern flavours of Chinese five spice or ginger and orange pork fillet is delectable, with a mild sweet heat. Today we’re leaning towards a Cajun-Jamaican vibe with island spices, served alongside a tropical fruit salsa.
Don’t be deterred by the extended cooking time. The prep work is quite minimal whereafter the oven will be doing most of the work for you. The pork can be made the day before and left to macerate in the dark, sticky sauce. Reheat on the hob over a medium heat and allow to simmer for at least 8-10 minutes. Add a little extra water to prevent the sauce from reducing too much.
I served my tacos without the grated cheese and sour cream and it was still superb. However, I later added the cheese, because quite frankly anything with cheese is better, especially if you’re a dairy lover. So write up your shopping list, invite your mates and get your slow cooking on this weekend.
Okay, everybody calm down! We’re not actually eating the skin. It’s serve merely as a meat ‘protector’ or anti-dryer, if you will.
Cajun spiced pulled pork tacos with pineapple and mango salsa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 kg pork shoulder
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of each ground coriander, cumin and oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
400g tinned tomatoes, mulched
1 cup water
salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180º C. In a large dutch oven pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season the pork shoulder generously with salt and black pepper. Place the pork in the hot pan and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add a drop more oil and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in all the remaining ingredients and bring up to the boil. Ensure that the sauce is well seasoned as this will permeate and flavour the meat. Add the pork back into the pan with the fat side facing upwards. This will prevent the meat from drying out. Cover with the lid and roast in the preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours.
Turn the pork over after 2 1/2 hours, spoon some of the sauce over the meat and continue cooking for the remaining hour. When the cooking time is up, allow the meat to rest for about 30 minutes. Remove the top fatty layer and discard. Using 2 forks, shred the meat and place back into sauce. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Pineapple and mango salsa
1 slightly firm mango, peeled and diced
1 small pineapple, inner core removed and diced
a handful of flat leaf parsley and coriander, finely chopped
2 purple scallions, diced
1 red chilli, diced (optional)
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
pinch of castor sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
2 ripe avocados
shredded cos or romaine lettuce
grated mature cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional)
For the salsa, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. To a assemble, lay a bed of shredded lettuce down the centre of the tortilla. Top with warm pulled pork, slices of fresh avocado and fruit salsa. If you like, add some grated cheddar and sour cream to your tacos for extra flavours. Wrap and roll and tuck in!