One Sunday a few years ago my Aro Valley flatmate Edward cooked pork all day — eight hours in the oven. I wondered if he was slightly mad. If nothing else, he was very determined. It was pulled pork, he said, served alongside home-made coleslaw, soft white rolls, and a very impressive and gorgeously tangy home-made barbecue sauce. It was amazing. I’d never had pork like it: shredded apart, soft, incredibly flavoursome, and perfect with the crunchy slaw.
Pulled pork seemed to pop up on my radar a lot after that. It wasn’t long before this American barbecue craze was just about everywhere, on menus all over town, usually served in little slider buns or in soft tacos. When I began cooking it myself, I realised its appeal instantly. You take a cheap, tough cut of meat and cook it until it’s meltingly tasty, then simply shred it apart with a fork.
My recipe is a lot shorter than Edward’s, and I’ve gone with a slightly Tex-Mex take on it, using tangy yogurt, avocado and fresh lime to cut through the fattiness. These tacos end up as beautifully balanced little bites, and a really impressive and delicious Sunday dinner. There’s a reason you also see pulled pork on menus in sliders though: the soft white bun pays homage to the dish’s American origins, and combined with coleslaw it makes a really great starter or canapé.
This pork recipe, with its good amount of heat and chilli, lends itself well to sliders too, and it can be served with a home-made slaw if you prefer. I’ll challenge anyone who’s not into cooking or slow cooking to give this recipe a go. You might surprise yourself, and impress everyone around you.
Pulled pork soft tacos
For the pork
- 1kg pork loin or shoulder (you don’t need the thick strip of fat/skin for this recipe)
- 1½ tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- Ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 fresh oranges
- 355ml bottle of beer of your choice
- Small soft corn tortillas
- Avocado slices
- Fresh lime wedges
- Fresh coriander leaves, roughly torn
- Hot sauce of your choice (Wellington’s own Huffman’s is great)
- Greek yogurt
- Fresh salsa (optional)
- Cut the pork into large chunks and place in a bowl.
- Season with the spices, salt and pepper, ensuring that each surface is covered.
- Sear the pork in olive oil in a heavy-based casserole dish until golden on all sides. Remove and set aside.
- Keeping the dish on the stove top, squeeze the oranges straight into it. Add the beer and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and return the pork to the pan, ensuring it’s covered by the liquid. Put the lid on the dish and then place it in the oven at 175˚C. Cook for 30 minutes, then check and turn the pork over. Cook for another 60–90 minutes until the pork is falling apart.
- Remove from the oven, and shred pork in the remaining liquid (which should have reduced and thickened) with two forks.
- Serve with the accompaniments and the tortillas, slightly warmed.