Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chile Rubbed Pork Tacos with Cucumber Salsa........This One Needs Work

So. Don't try this recipe. At least, not until I have had more time to practice it. I'm not saying it was a total failure, but it was a masterpiece of mediocrity. To me, the best tacos are pork tacos. Mexican pork is just salty and spicy and awesome. My first attempt at making them on the grill went about as well as my first try at college, which is to say that it was marked by poor choices, a lack of direction, and at the end, a final grade that you race home to intercept in the mail before your mom finds out.
Here's what I did, and how I will redeem myself next time:

This one was loosely based off of a chile rubbed pork loin recipe from The Barbecue Bible by Stephen Raichlen. I used his technique for butterflying the pork loin to make it an even thickness. First, stretch out the loin, then use a sharp knife to slice it down the middle, almost through to the other side. Then open it up and place it flat on a sheet of plastic wrap. Cover it with another sheet and pound it flat until it is about 1/2 inch thick all the way across. I then cut it into four pieces and applied the rub.

For the chile rub, I used canned chipotle peppers, brown sugar and garlic. I smeared the rub on the pork pieces and put them in the fridge for about 6 hours. Now let's take a little time out to clear something up. Chipotles are jalepenos that have been slow roasted. They have a smoky flavor and still retain a good amound of heat. They are a true Mexican treat, but every other person I hear talk about them pronounces them wrong. It is not Chee Pole Tay. It is Chee Pote Lay. Hear the difference? I demand that you say it out loud right now. Now, from here on out, if you pronounce it wrong, I curse all your cooking for a period of six weeks. It will be doomed to taste like these tacos. Glad we got that out of the way. The recipe for the rub will be at the end of the post.

Our salsa was not totally inedible, but still needs work. I added cucumber slivers, reminiscent of the taco salad at the phenomenal Moe's in Birmingham, Alabama. Welcome to Moe's! In the end, it was good stuff, but I held back too much on the heat. Still makes a decent addition to any Mexican meal. Recipe at the end.

We saved the meal by accompanying it with my guacamole, which is unbeatable. It would make any tasteless meal better. I might have a crush on my guacamole. Recipe deserves a post all its own, so stay tuned.

The marinated pork hit the grill for about 4 minutes per side, then I sliced it thin and we wrapped it in toasted corn tortillas, sour cream, cucumber salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese and lime juice.

Sounds good and makes a pretty picture, but it had issues. The flavors were all supposed to "marry" as they say on the Food Network. This marriage was like a drunken drive-thru wedding at Elvis' 24 Hour Chapel of Love in Atlantic City that ended up in illegitimate children, his/her tattoos and an annullment. I didn't add enough salt or heat in the rub. The pork was just bland. I put too much garlic in the salsa. The corn tortillas were mushy and grainy. Flour tortillas are the only way to go. It just wasn't very good. Some of the bites actually tasted like soapy feet.
I did find that if you put all the ingredients on a tortilla chip, and add a few drops of Chollula hot sauce, it actually tasted really good. Who knew? I'll keep working on this recipe and let you know how it goes. I told you in the beginning I was giving you the winners and the losers, so there. I'm not a liar. Happy grilling, from the Jacked Up Grill!

Chile Rub for Pork
4 chipotle peppers chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients and stir until sugar dissolves. Coat meat and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Cucumber Salsa
1 large tomato chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
1/4 onion (we used white, but red would have been better)
2 jalepeno peppers finely chopped.
1 clove garlic minced
1 cucumber, cut into 1/2 inch slivers
1 lime juiced
Salt to taste

Mix ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour. Drain off excess liquid.

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