IMG_0069 My time in culinary school is flying by so fast! We just wrapped up another six weeks period and this one was quite interesting because we learned about the foods of different cultures and got to re-create all of the delicious, cultural dishes. One of our last cooking productions was to produce any traditional meal from a certain region of the United States. I was given South Western cuisine which was fine by me because the recipes are always full of flavor, spice, and fun!

In my opinion, it is so important to learn about different cultures and their traditions and foods. It reminds me how diverse our world and everyone who lives in it is. Some of the cuisines we learned about was Italian, German, French, Asian, African, Caribbean, Indian, and so much more. All I need to do now is get enough money to travel to these places and eat everything I can. Although I’ll probably come back twenty pounds heavier…

During our production, I was in a team with two other classmates (the Dream Team) and our mystery meats for the South Western region were bison, quail, and pork butt. My friend Lauren was in charge of preparing a bison chili with red kidney beans and my other friend JD prepared sautΓ©ed and braised quail wrapped in bacon. Seriously, everything is always better with bacon. Furthermore, my dish was the orange achioteΒ pork butt tacos. I’ve never made anything like these tacos and they were so delicious and simple!

For this recipe you will need:

2 pounds pork butt, cut into 3-inch cubes
2 Tbsp veg oil
1 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp achiote paste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/3 cup pineapple juice
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
Sea salt and black pepper
1 Tbsp Cholula hot sauce (optional)
Warmed corn tortillas

Garnish:

Pickled red onions, recipe follow
Mango, small dice
Queso fresco, crumbled
Roasted corn
Cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle the pork cubes with a generous amount of sea salt and pepper. Then, sear the pork in a large, oven-proof pot in the 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once the pork begins to turn a brown color, remove from the pot and set aside. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Then, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, and 2 Tbsp achiote paste and stir well. Pour the orange and pineapple juice into the pot and bring to a low boil. Once the mixture reaches a low boil, remove from the heat and carefully transfer to a blender. Process until the mixture is smooth.

Arrange the orange peels (skin-side up) on the bottom of the pot and scatter the pork butt on top of the orange peels. This will ensure that the pork remains moist while giving it a wonderful flavor. Pour the achiote paste inside the pot. Cover and place into the oven. Cook until the pork is pull-apart tender, at least 3 hours.

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Once the pork is tender, remove from the pot and set aside. Remove the orange peels and discard. Then, using two forks or clean hands, shred the pork. Return the shredded meat back to the achiote sauce and keep warm until ready to serve. Season the sauce to taste and add the 1 Tbsp cholula hot sauce.

Pickled onions:

1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Whisk the vinegar, sugar, salt and 1 cup of water in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Place the onions in the bowl or mason jar and allow them to sit in the vinegar mixture for at least 1 hour in room temperature. Drain onions before using.

Simply warm the corn tortillas in the microwave or in a skillet over low heat and garnish your pork tacos with whatever your heart desires. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

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