While this recipe appears to be complex, I encourage you to break it down into several distinct pieces that can each be accomplished separately and almost with no relationship to other steps. I will be guiding you through the steps with hints and suggestions as you will find below.
Pork Pecan Tacos with Guacamole
- 2 lb. marinated center-cut pork loin filet (onion and garlic flavor)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3/4 cup reserved broth from the cooked pork loin
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste (divided)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped or miniprocessed
- 1 pasilla or poblano chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
- 8 – 10 flour tortillas
- Guacamole (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
1) Place pork in shallow pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and continue baking for another hour. During the last hour of cooking, check to make sure there is liquid surrounding the pork. If it begins to dry, add water, 1/4 cup at a time. This broth will be used later on.
2) Let the meat stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove meat from pan, reserving
3/4 cup of the liquid. Cut the meat into 4 to 6 pieces; with clean hands or 2 forks shred the meat into a large bowl.
3) In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the pork with the garlic briefly, about 1 minute. Add the reserved broth and simmer about 10 minutes. Taste and season as desired with additional salt.
4) In a small skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat and stir in the pecans and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and saute for 1 minute; add the chilies and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir half this pecan mixture into the pork mixture. The rest should be sprinkled over the top when serving. (optional). Instead of green jalapeno peppers, red jalapenos could be used to add color to the meat.
To serve, heat the flour tortillas. (stack in pie pan, cover with foil and put in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.) Spread guacamole on each tortilla and fill with the shredded pork.
- 2 ripe avacados
- 1 medium-size ripe tomato
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
- lemon juice
- garlic salt
Mash avacados in a small bowl. Stir in chopped tomato and onion. Season with lemon juice and garlic salt.
Makes 4 to 5 servings.
Those are the recipes; as you can see, I have broken the ingredient list down into subsets that go with the directions. Now I am going to discuss each step that might use a enlarged explanation.
- Buying the meat: It once was that we could buy a 2 pound pork loin in a package with a garlic-onion marinade. I haven’t seen it in the marketplace recently. They are doing many other marinades. You can try one of those, and I doubt if it will make a big difference. I also note that inflation has hit on the pork loin in marinade; they use to be 2 pounds but now seem to be only 1 to 1 ½ pounds.If you need to buy a non-marinade pork loin, then I would recommend talking to the butcher. There is something called silver skin on pork that needs to be cut off; it is tough. It might not make any difference since we will be shredding the meat, but what the heck- let the butcher with his expertise take it off. I did one such pork loin, and learning about the silver skin is not worth the effort. You have to first identify it, then slip a sharp, flexible knife (boning knife) under it and peel it away from the muscle/meat.
- Marinade: If you need to make a marinade, then here is a pointer to a very simple one on Cooks.com.
It has soy sauce, fresh onion, fresh garlic, sugar, ground ginger, and oil. I have used this marinade a couple times and it seems to be easy and straight- forward. My only hint would be to be certain the sugar gets dissolved in the soy sauce. You need to plan ahead if you need to do the marinade; it needs to soak for a day or two. I put the pork loin and marinade in a large freezer bag and put it in the refrigerator to do its thing.
- Roasting the pork: The package will probably say to roast for 45 -60 minutes. Forget it. Marlys says to roast for 2 ½ hours, and explicitly to tent it after 1 ½ hours, and to continually add liquid. If you don’t roast the meat long enough, it is difficult to shred, so please follow Marlys’s directions, and remember to add the liquid so there is minimal burning.
No matter how hard you try, the bottom of the roasting pan is going to get some burned sugar on it. I recommend that you use a glass or ceramic pan to ease clean-up. And, a secret my sister Rachael taught me is to get a scouring powder called Bar Keeper’s Friend to help with the clean-up.
- Caramelizing the Pecans: Although the directions don’t say to do this until after you have the shredded meat in the skillet sautéing, I would do this while the meat is roasting so you know you have the time. Of course, everyone is afraid of fresh peppers- don’t be. Wear rubber gloves if you think they will irritate the skin- I don’t need to protect my hands. And the peppers will loss most of their heat between the preparation- removing the seeds and veins- and the cooking. Where I would suggest being careful is getting rid of the seeds, stems, etc. I notice that when I put them down the garbage disposal, there is a back gassing that will cause me to cough and sputter if I catch it in my face, so don’t be over the garbage disposal when you wash the pepper debris down it. And, now that you have the oil of the peppers on your hands and fingers, don’t touch your face! Wash your hands with soap before proceeding.
If you know that you will want a little more pepper heat in the finished meat, keep a couple tablespoons of the jalapeno aside now, and then sprinkle it on the meat as a final touch.
- Shredding the pork: This is not a difficult task. What is happening is that with the two forks, you are pulling across the grain of the meat to separate the fibers of the grain. Cutting the roast into pieces that are a couple inches long makes certain that the fibers are not longer than that. Have fun!
- Guacamole: I like to seed and juice the tomatoes before cutting them up for the guacamole so that the juice doesn’t get into the guacamole. I just think it makes a nicer sauce.
To convert the tacos into a fiesta, you might want to open a can of refried beans and heat them. When you serve them, sprinkle the top with grated cheese. Some people like a little lettuce with their taco, so you might want to shred a small bowl of lettuce as an accompaniment. And if you want even more of the taste of Mexico, you could also set the table with some sliced ripe olives, and maybe some salsa. I would also include on the table some sour cream; if anyone feels the pepper heat is too much, they can use a little sour cream to cool their mouth and reduce the heat. Don’t use water! It spreads the heat.
There are at least two ways to make/eat a taco; first is to roll the meat and other ingredients into the tortilla. In this case, fold up the bottom of the tortilla first so the stuffings don’t fall out. The other way is to tear the tortilla into pieces (4?) and then put just a little bit of the various ingredients on the piece and fold it only enough to get it into the mouth.
If you make the guacamole ahead of time, or have some left after the meal, you need to cover it with a piece of plastic wrap pressed down onto its surface so no air can get to it. Air causes the avocado to turn ugly brown, and very unappetizing.
Any left-over meat can be reheated in the microwave; and individual tortillas can also be warmed in the microwave.