Today I told a fib (okay a lie), and I blamed it on the kids. Well, the puppy that is.
I’ve been riding up a storm lately because it’s beautiful out and I’m very lucky to have incredible horses available to me. I’m hopelessly in love with the four-legged boys of the equine variety, and have resorted to my Tween habits of thumbing longingly through the Dover saddlery catalog and making notes of all the things I would buy if I won the lottery. As such, I’ve been gone a lot lately, and have not seen much of my boys of the two and four-legged human/canine variety.
I’m off this weekend to Walla Walla for a girl’s trip of food, wine, and general gluttony, so any chance of catching up this weekend will have to be satisfied with late night silly text messages that don’t make any sense the next morning. Which is all to say that when I realized I was leaving tomorrow, and I hadn’t seen Matt all week, and the only thing standing in front of me and him and Duke and Onca enjoying a delicious picnic on the lake was Puppy School….
…I told a fib.
Okay a lie.
Duke has had a cough, so I slightly bent the truth and said he still had a cough and therefore we couldn’t come to class. How powerful a change of tense can be. If you’re reading this Linda…I apologize.
I know I’m being very silly. No one but me would make up a tall tale to get out of elective puppy school, but there you have it. I told a fib…okay a lie. And so with that, we packed ourselves up, loaded up the picnic basket with a bottle of wine, some meats and cheeses, and the leftover fixings from possibly the most delicious Pork Belly Tacos I’ve ever had. To be fair (and HONEST), I don’t think I’ve ever had pork belly tacos…but these were pretty freaking good. They are wildly unhealthy, so don’t do them all the time, but for a summer picnic on the lake, these finger licking bundles are about as good as it gets. No lie.
Braised Pork Belly Tacos
Adapted from Have Knives, Will Cook
For the pork:
2-½ lbs. boneless skinless pork belly
1 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 c. white distilled vinegar
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
crushed red pepper (optional)
salt & pepper
For the toppings bar:
Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage
8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper
Soft corn tortillas
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center of the oven.
2. Lightly score the pork belly on the fat side by making a few 1/8″ deep cuts. Generously season the pork belly with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron skillet or dutch oven, put the mean fat side down over medium heat. Slightly sear on both sides or until a pale golden brown.
3. Remove the meat from the pan and cut into 6-8 pieces, about 4 oz each. Drain the excess fat from the pan and return the meat, positioning with the fat side down. Add the orange juice, vinegar, garlic, and a pinch of crushed red pepper so that the liquid comes halfway up the pieces of meat. Cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil (not necessary if using a dutch oven) and bake in the oven 1-2 hours until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork. Flip the meat halfway through.
4. While the meat cooks, prepare the garnishes. To make the Cilantro Lime Crema, mix the cilantro, lime, and sour cream.
5. When the pork is cooked, let it rest covered in the cooking liquid for 5-10 minutes before pulling apart. Once it has rested, shred the meat with a pair of forks, or your fingers and mix it with just enough of the braising liquid to coat each morsel. Add salt to taste.
6. Heat the tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet (cast iron works best) over medium-low heat until they are soft and keep them warm, wrapped in aluminum foil or a clean towel.
7. Serve the tortillas, the meat, and the toppings bar and let folks go to town.