Pork Tacos

Pork tacos… that’s pretty much all I have to write. Just get straight to the recipe? Okay, I will, but first some business. The following ratios are good for two to three people. This recipe was made for outdoor grilling, but a grill pan will do. The chipotle pepper power definitely adds a little heat, so if you don’t like heat, substitute it with ancho chili powder. Lastly, a food processor will make this recipe infinitely easier to make.

Your master shopping list.

  • 1 ¼ pounds pork tenderloin.
  • 1 Pineapple* (see note below on picking a ripe pineapple if you need help)
  • 6 Garlic cloves
  • 4 Chipotle chilies in Adobo sauce + 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce.
  • ¼ Cup brown sugar
  • ¼ Cup your preferred neutral oil (vegetable, canola, grapeseed, etc)
  • 4 Teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 Teaspoons ground chipotle pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 Limes
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Cilantro, 1 bunch
  • 1 bag corn tortillas, 30 count.
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 small red cabbage
  • Let’s begin.

First trim the pork tenderloin of excess silverskin and then cut it in half lengthwise. If you’re like me, the type who buys in bulk and freezes, make the cut halfway through defrosting. It’ll cut so much easier. Now if you’re not like me, the type who actually uses a mallet to achieve uniform thickness, you should do that after the pork is fully defrosted. ½ inch thickness should do. Take your halved pork tenderloin and lay it lengthwise in a shallow baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the marinade you will need:

  • 1 Pineapple
  • 6 Garlic cloves, peeled.
  • 4 Chipotle chilies in Adobo sauce + 1 teaspoon adobo sauce.
  • ¼ Cup brown sugar
  • ¼ Cup Canola oil
  • 4 Teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 Teaspoons ground chipotle pepper
  • 4 Teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Slice up that Pineapple. Get a chef’s knife and cut ½ inch off the top and bottom, making sure the meat of the pineapple is fully visible on both. Cut off the peel, sacrificing as little meat as possible, while making sure all eyes are removed. Slice the pineapple into 8 equal slices, just under a ½ inch each. Put 6 of the slices aside and core the remaining 2. Put the 2 cored slices into the food processer and add the remaining ingredients listed above with exception of the lime juice. Process until smooth, tiny chunks are okay.

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Once you’re done processing, coat the awaiting pork keeping in mind you want to reserve enough marinade to use as a sauce with your finished tacos. Better to have too much leftover marinade than not enough. Roll the tenderloins around in the marinade to ensure a thorough coating.

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Put the reserved marinade in a serving dish, stir in the tablespoon of lime juice, and place in the refrigerator.

Prepare your grill now. You’ll want it nice and hot so as to get a deep sear on both the pineapple and the pork.

While the grill is coming to temperature return to the 6 remaining slices of pineapple and brush each side with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Once the grill is ready, start with the pineapple, laying them down in the single layer. Grill until the pineapple is uniformly charred, about 3 minutes on each side. Do not over grill, nobody likes mushy pineapple. Remove from grill and set aside.

The pork will cook fairly quickly so I recommend staying close. Also, no need to close the grill, it will only increase the chances of over cooking your pork. It should take no more than 4 minutes per side to cook the tenderloins. Of course, the most exact way is to use a thermometer and cook to an internal temperature of 135. I cannot stress enough the importance of a good kitchen thermometer when it comes to cooking meat perfectly. The other thing I can’t stress enough is the importance of letting your meat rest before cutting. In this case, 5 minutes should do it.

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While the pork is resting, toss the following ingredients in a bowl for the pineapple salsa

  • The 6 slices of grilled pineapple, cored and cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. 

This is also a good time to warm the tortillas (if you’re into that kind of thing) and prepare the garnishes.

  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small red cabbage, finely sliced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, wedged

Enough time should have passed for you to cut the pork now. I prefer mine roughly chopped.

I like to lay everything out buffet style and let people assemble their own, but here is how I make mine.

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I find most store bought corn tortillas a little flimsy, so I recommend using two as a base. First add your pork, then a couple dollops of marinade, which will help act as a sticking agent for the pineapple salsa, and finish with your choice(s) of garnish. Serve with lime wedges.

Sit back, eat tacos, and bask in the glow of adulation.

Notes:

I believe the ingredients as listed above in the shopping list would work for two 1 ¼ pound pork tenderloins and serve four to six people, as every time I’ve made this recipe I’ve had extra of everything except meat. I recently doubled this recipe and used four 1 ¼ pound tenderloins and served 10 people with minimal leftovers.

*The best way to make sure you have a pineapple that’s ready to go is to smell the bottom. If it smells like pineapple juice, you’ve got a winner. It’s just that simple, but just to be sure I would also make sure it’s uniform in color (more yellow than green and not orangish) and that it gives slightly to a generous squeezing.

This recipe originated from Milk Street Magazine. At its heart, it’s the same, but I made some minor changes to better suit my palate.

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