Saturday, May 01, 2010

Pulled pork tacos

Yes, delicious pork tacos. But first, indulge me for a minute while I embark on some quick link-dropping and tangent-going, and don't you dare pull a tl;dr on me. I never write any more. You'll get to the photos soon enough.

So I was reading Peter's blog (which I actually still do, Peter, even though I'm too busy saving myself from tendonitis to comment from my iPhone) and found out about Ruhlman's stance that "suck it, you all have plenty of time to cook. And what."

To borrow a phrase, I call bullshit. Now, granted, I am currently fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom (err, a work from home mom), so in theory I have plenty of time to loll around the kitchen for long, slow braises and staggeringly articulate yeast-risings - more time, in fact, than when Scott and I were a couple of blithe DINKs with weekends to burn.

To that I say, "you've gotta be fucking kidding me."

Anyways, Peter linked to a response from Married...with dinner, and at the end of Anita's pleasant diatribe, she vows to share time-saving tricks for home cooks on a weekly basis, and implores her readers to offer their own. So we can all eat like we have time to burn, when in reality, few of us have this luxury. And here we are.

Life as the recently-mated consists of a series of two-hour blocks. Two hours of napping (yay! do stuff!) are followed by two hours of attentive snuggling and neuron-firing playtime. Rinse and repeat. Two hours is still a lot of time, true, but did I mention I work from home? Plus, what if I just put something delicate in the oven, then have to abandon it for maternal duties? This has happened, by the way - I had to run upstairs to nurse Zeph back into submission and had to just lay there with my tit out, listening to the oven timer beeping away for 15 minutes until Scott got home from work. The food was saved this time, barely, but I know I won't always be that lucky.

My culinarian identity has been seriously compromised for the past year or so, so as a saving throw, I have become a recent convert to pressure cooking. Yes, old timey, frighteningly sputtery and clattery pressure-cooking. I can spare enough time a couple times a month to pressure-cook poundage of beast or beans (the pressure allows the boiling temperature to exceed 212 degrees, which drastically cuts cooking time), then freeze for easy reheating at a later date. This means I can eat feijoadas from homegrown heirloom beans (dried and stored) with brisket and ham shank an hour after starting it, and again a month later in only 10 minutes. (In fact, when I cook beans these days, I only cook the whole bag and freeze the cooked legumes in 1-cup portions. This takes about 15 or 20 minutes, and saves lots of rupees, too. Canned beans are for suckers.)

So my protip of the week: get over your fear of the pressure cooker. It was good enough for grandma, it's good enough for you.

Okay, so to the tacos already.

Another lazy-evening, time-strapped, just-put-the-baby-to-bed dinner, tacos are such an easy way to deliver protein, starch and a little veg to the sleepwalking. Particularly if one is fortuitous enough to have pressure-cooked a 5lb. pork shoulder the prior evening (which, itself, took only about 45 minutes).

All I needed was to add some cumin, Mexican oregano (actually a verbena, and not even in the same botanical family as oregano) and achiote to the leftover pork shreds. Reheated pulled pork always tastes fine as long as there is plenty of delicious grease to cushion against drying.

For authenticity (and because it is Correct), tacos should contain only meat, onion and cilantro, and be served in two corn tortillas. The second tortilla is for cobbling together a spare taco from any fallen taco flotsam. Hot sauce is encouraged, and a spritz of lime livens everything up.

Serve with an ice-cold Negro Modelo and radishes for coolness.


peter said...

Yeah, but everyone's a mess with a newborn. That changes. It's good that he mad you mad; you can deny it all you want but it's going to goad you into picking your game up. I know how competitive you are. And your phone-ins are usually a world away from the crap that most people eat every night.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Lovely! Pulled pork is so delicious, especially when paired with tortillas.



pam said...

I love my pressure cooker, but I'm leary of beans. It's the whole clog the vent thing that I'm afraid of. So, you promise, they work okay?

glamah16 said...

Well I'm all for good food and not taking short cuts. but sometimes I do, and there is nothing wrong with that. If all is right in the universe I will take a longer and more tasteful route to get there, but sometimes even single me with no baby, doesn't have the time either. I love my pressure and slow cooker as shortcuts too.
Now I want some tacos por favor!

gagagear said...

On Ruhlman:

I think what strikes me about his post is that we are reacting as food-capable people. We're annoyed at his assertion that we-the-people have time, period. He's saying make time. Fine. We do when we can. He's not really talking about us, anyway, or he shouldn't be.

On the face, his comments seem better suited for "the others" - the fast fooders - the snack wellers. But here's where I call bullshit - the insistence that "anyone can cook." Did he eat up Ratatouille, or what?

Cooking is categorized by our schools as a vocational skill. Okay, that's fair - you can learn it in steps and achieve some degree of proficiency. But to cook fresh delicious food in 30-60 minutes night after night, you have to be really comfortable in your cooking skin. You can't have your head in a cookbook. It's probably 80% improvisation based on what's on hand. And that's where the "Joy" and the real art of cooking come in. While I agree basic fresh cooking can be learned and should certainly be the goal, I reject the notion that "anyone" can cook 3 meals daily that are "good/make you feel good."

I'm pretty sure even Ruhlman has a box of Annie's Mac N'Cheese in the pantry and a stack of take-out menus in his top drawer. (Though he's most likely black-listed at Hop Sing's.)


Ruhlman = blah blah blah whatever. I'd like to see him "make time" to be a stay-at-home dad.

tobias cooks! said...

I haven't had Tacos in a long time. THese look great. I really should try this recipe soon.

Alicia Foodycat said...

This looks good!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Don't have a pressure cooker, but not out of fear. More out of, er, never got around to buying one. Impressive, huh? But I can cook under pressure, if that counts?

So now it's clear to me that I actually NEED a pressure cooker. Thanks for that. ;)

TKW said...

I'm with you on this one. True, I don't have a newborn, but I have 2 kids and one is going through the Marathon Potty Training Regime from Hell, and dinner is sometimes a slap-dash affair.

As soon as Ruhlman has to whip out his tit to feed a hungry baby 24/7 or potty train a defiant kid...well then...MAYBE I'll listen

Lo said...

First - thanks for weighing in on this. The whole debate has been bugging me all this time, but I haven't felt eloquent enough to really respond.

I'm in LOVE with the idea of the pressure cooker... for things like beans in no time flat and lovely other things in the blink of an eye. Just need to actually get out there and buy one. Any recs?

And Mexican oregano is a verbena!? Well, hells bells, that makes all sorts of sense.

Leigh said...

I actually stopped reading this post after the words 'pulled pork..'. I don't need to read the rest. Cos anything with Pulled Pork in it is going to be awesome. Especially when it comes from you! oh...and I endorse pressure cooking. Embrace it!

Ken Albala said...

Ruhlman is right on about time spent cooking. And I especially loved how he put Karen Page in her place at the IACP. She was doing a damned infomercial about herself and I wanted to slap her. He nearly did, I'm sure.

Christine said...

Yeah, I saw the Ruhlman article too, and while part of his article is correct, there are those who will say they are so busy when all they do is watch TV (I'm looking at you SIL who doesn't work, son is at school and five, and yet still couldn't manage to get the two of them dressed for a two o'clock meet up in their house), the vast majority of people do work, are strapped for time, and at their wit's end. Ruhlman's attitude is what irked me. If I have some fresh veggies and decent pantry, I can absolutely make a "quick" dinner, but to say that people are too lazy to do so, all the time? Well, I kind of wanted to kick him in the shins.

And you know what, I don't begrudge the person who heads into a Whole Foods (or *gasp* Stop & Shop) to grab themselves a roasted bird. If I get home at 7 or 8 p.m., an hour of time is still a boatload of time to wait for dinner. Sure, it isn't the "best" option, but it isn't bad, especially when you combine it with a quick homemade side or two.

Pulled pork is really a life saver. I do mine in a 6qt crock pot while I'm sleeping. Let it cool while I get ready for the day, and then reheat with whatever I'm in the mood for: barbecue, Mexican, what have you.

Anita (Married... with dinner) said...

oh man, those tacos look delicious :D

cookiecrumb said...

So that's why Mexican oregano is so good? It's not oregano?
Take it easy, mama.

butterface said...

I learned the proper way to eat tacos from working in kitchens. The dishwashers would make them for the gringa bakers and we would intern bake off the pie dough scraps with cinnamon sugar for them. At first I was all like where the fuck is the shredded cheddar and iceburg? I was 19 and knew not what I was saying. I now know those are white people condiments and are unecessary. Onions. Meat. Cilantro. The holy trinity.

And I phone in dinner every night. I only bust out the love on sundays. I am newborn-less and work a 9-5 job, so really I have no excuse other than being lazy and the fact that fuck you Ruhlman, I'm in kitchens around food all day. When I get home, I just want to slap together a tuna sammich with potato chips and watch movies on the couch. Which is why I'm so slim.

I second your bullshit call.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I admit I don't have a pressure cooker yet. At this point, I'm not sure my 8'X 8' kitchen can handle yet another appliance.

Pulled pork is always a pleasure and I'm drooling right now. Wrap it in a tortilla and it's a definite, "Can't get any better than this" moment.

Pete said...

Great post and beautiful pictures!!!

Manggy said...

Okay, cos you're one of my favorite people in the world I'll forgive that you made me read a Ruhlman article :P (reasons for my personal distaste for that ass can be shared in private, maybe.) The fact that he cited Jamie Oliver as an example of shortcut crap cooking (?!) means he has no idea what he's talking about. And "working a 12 hour-day is a choice"?! What the hell does that even mean and how does it help your argument (or anyone)??

Well, I'm just kidding - it was my choice to click through anyway. I wanted you to be proud of me for not doing the tl;dr thing ;) We have a pressure cooker here but I've become scared to use it because it's missing a part :(

I had the most fantastic tacos that had pickled veg on it. I think it was authentic. But of course I'd still rather have what you've prepared here ;)

Unknown said...

Hey, I totally agree with Ruhlman-There are about 1000 pasta dishes you can make in the time it takes to cook noodles. Shut the television off, set the table and sit down for a meal (together). Yeah, it is "old-school", but it seems like a pretty good place to actually talk (vs. txt) to your family.

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