We are nearly a week and a day out from the showdown of showdowns. The stakes are higher than ever. I am putting my best taco against offerings from home cooks in Chicago to see if years of visits to taqueria’s were worth it. This will be my third attempt in a cooking competition, but this time I have a different strategy on how to win.
Here is the approach I’ll be going with next Sunday. Having eaten my way through most cities, these barbacoa tacos stand up to my favorite taqueria’s tacos. They have a nice amount of heat, moist and tender meat.
The secret to keeping the meat moist is all in the braise, especially for barbacoa. I used most of a 16 oz bottle of Sapporo Premium (a few ounces for myself). Cooking with alcohol is a pro tip to add flavor complexity to whatever you’re making, whether a sauce or a braise. The booze cooks out and imparts its own zip to a dish. Plus, you might as well sample some before putting it in the pot. I have their Reserve beer set aside to take this dish to the next level.
If I don’t win, I will forego eating tacos for an entire month.
If you’re in the Chicago area on April 19, come see if my barbacoa has what it takes to be the best. My stomach and pride depend on it.
You got the time? I got the recipe for you for barbacoa that may top your favorite taqueria.
Mix all the spices in a bowl for the spice rub with a fork. These are the approximate increments I used.
Generously rub the pork shoulder with the spice rub. Ideally, do this overnight to let the flavors penetrate the meat. I didn't plan ahead and did this day of. The flavors were still sensational.
Whether you let the spice rub sit over night in the fridge or for 15 minutes, let the pork get closer to room temp before searing.
Heat dutch oven on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add olive oil in dutch oven.
Add 1/8 tsp chile de arbol peppers to the oil (15-20 seconds).
Add onions to dutch oven. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add chopped chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Stir.
Add spice-rubbed pork shoulder to dutch oven.
Sear on all 4-6 sides.
Pour in beer, scraping up fawn on the bottom of the pot. Add water.
Bring to a simmer, cover and place into 325 degree oven for 3-4 hours. The meat will get to the desired temperature in this span of time, so you are really looking for the meat to be fall apart tender.
Let the meat rest for 10-20 minutes. Then, with two forks, start pulling apart the meat. Pork shoulder is fatty. Most of the fat will have melted away. Discard the remaining fatty chunks.
Some days you just want to act like a kid and devour a whole stack of pancakes.
But, you know what makes pancakes even better? Pancakes shaped like a pig.
My sister gave my girlfriend a pig pan at Christmas and we tabled our normal cereal routine or eggs to test it out. Modifying this recipe for banana pancakes from My Baking Addiction, we embarked on our breakfast adventure.
The main changes were to add more cinnamon and swap almond milk for regular milk. I love cinnamon and find most recipes never have enough. When using shaped pans, it’s a good idea to make sure you use some butter or cooking spray to prevent sticking. After the pan heats up, add a small sliver of butter and swirl it around the pan to cover all the corners.
You’ll need to setup a second pan for the dramatic pig flip. It’s best if you have a griddle or a shallow pan. The closer you can get the pig pan to the griddle, the less your pig’s brain will escape. We dodged any pig massacres.
If you aren’t experienced in making pancakes, when the batter starts to bubble or you see the edges curl up/in, those are good indicators that it’s time to flip.
We served ours with warmed maple syrup and just enough Reddi-Whip to guarantee my insulin levels were nearing the danger zone.
These may just make you oink like a swine for another serving.