You Can Tan in the Yucatán

Taco Tuesday is not something we necessarily observe every week in our house, but on occasion we do — and we do it up right at that! I recently purchased a pork shoulder for our Kentucky Burgoo we made for Derby Day this month, but we didn’t need all 6lbs of it for that recipe, so into the freezer the remaining 4lbs went. Until this week.

I found this yummy-looking recipe in Saveur Magazine for Cochinita Pibil Tacos that called for pork shoulder cooked in a delicious peppery achiote sauce and served in warm tortillas with quick-pickled red onions and habañeros. It was bright and fresh and summery as authentic Mexican food should be. All the right aspects were there. There was heat, but it wasn’t overwhelming, that was offset by just the right amount of sweetness coming through with the citrus. A good hit of acid and salt in both the sauce and pickles were present to help cut through the fattiness of the pork.

Since some ingredients in more traditional cooking were not immediately available to me, I made a couple of close swaps while still maintaining the integrity of the dish. I didn’t immediately find achiote paste at my local market, so I made this delicious and perfect substitution courtesy of Epicurious. For the paste and the recipe, instead of using white vinegar, I opted for apple cider vinegar since it was already on hand — and I just really prefer it over white.

I also didn’t have banana leaves, but fresh unshucked corn is in abundance at the market lately, so I opted to use corn husks instead. They worked out well and were easily removed when I went to pull the meat out of the pan! I swapped out the corn tortillas with La Tortilla Factory teff wraps since there was such a great deal this week and I wanted to give them a try. So we made burritos instead of tacos — no one was complaining, I assure you.

Lastly, my radishes were a little sad looking, so I substituted my favorite super blend slaw in their place. One thing I wish I would have done was to double the amount of habañeros in the pickle. They weren’t too spicy at all! Their flavor was delightful and I found that I had to restrain myself from going back to pick out all the pieces from the bowl before The Mr got home.

I was fortunate to be able to find Mexican Oregano in the bulk spice section at my local Sprouts. Whole Foods has an equally great bulk spice section if you have one close to you in the absence of a Sprouts. One great thing about this recipe is that it’s dairy free and I kinda didn’t miss it. I usually love a full-fat dollop of Daisy and a sprinkling of shredded Mexican-style cheese on my Mexican food, but this dish was so packed with flavor, I didn’t need it and I refrained from topping my burrito with anything but fresh lime.

I served the burritos with roasted corn. I cradled each freshly shucked ear of corn in a piece of foil and drizzled them with a little grapeseed oil and seasoned them with my homemade taco seasoning (which I’ll be sharing in a week or two). I wrapped them each tightly and roasted them directly on the oven rack at 350º for 30min. They were so good, I’m ashamed to admit I ate two!

I always love a good tried-and-tested taco recipe. Link your favorite in the comments below!

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