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taco troubles . Need some guidance .

lestblight Jul 17, 2010 12:47 PM

So I have told my brother I would cook a dinner for his post wedding party. ( there are 2 ceremonies.. One is religious and is smaller.. Mainly family) so I told him I would make food. He requested fancy tacos .

So I decided on pork and skirt steak .

So first .. Can anyone recommend some pork shoulder recipes for tacos?

I want a slightly crispy and succulent and moist pork.

So how do u think I should attain this?

Also ...

I hate when I have a taco and the tortilla is super dry. So I'm considering making my own.
Or should I just add some fat on the tortillas when I reheat?

Also I want a good sauce for these tacos.. Something a lil fatty not too watery .. But something that is the glue for all the ingredients .

Let me know if you have any ideas for some perfect ones for pork and steak.

Thanks much !

  1. c oliver Jul 17, 2010 12:57 PM

    My suggestion, seriously and kindly, would be for you to tell your brother that this type of meal really isn't up your alley and that you'd prefer to fix something that you're experienced with. I think you're courting a disaster taking all new recipes and using those for a very special meal. Just a thought from someone who is looking out for you and your brother :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver
      lestblight Jul 17, 2010 01:44 PM

      Thank you for looking out . But I will have 1 or 2 trial runs prior to the meal.

      And I've made tacos before but with skirt and fish. Cilantro pesto and tomatillo sauces etc

      I found them a lil boring and wanted something a little more rich.

      So please bring the suggestions. I love a challenge an it's only food for 25. I've Cooked for 50 before.

      Thanks again for your response ..

    2. Caroline1 Jul 17, 2010 02:38 PM

      Let me start by listing a bunch of negatives. Well, one or two anyway. First off, tacos get cold VERY quick! And secondly, tacos are a LOT of work *IF* you intend to serve them all ready to eat. Sooooo....

      I *HAVE* served tacos to fairly large crowds, but I always do it as a "build it yourself" buffet. Buests really enjoy it, and it makes it MUCH easier to keep the hot components hot. I set out a variety of taco shells that range from fresh warm tortillas (flour and corn) for those who prefer soft tacos, to crispy shells, both the home fried and dry crunchy pre-made kind. And if I'm really feeling benevolent and the crowd isn't too large, then I might even put out a few crispy fried flour tortilla shells. These are great when eaten immediately after assembling and before the flour gets a chance to get soggy. Like a puff pastry taco!

      Then I set out all of the possible ingredients to go in them. Shredded beef, shredded chicken, shredded pork. If you have one of those old fashioned warmer trays, they're great for keeping the meats warm. Several kinds of grated cheeses, including cheddar and cotija. Diced avocados (sprinkled with lemon juice to deter browning) AND guacamole. Thinly sliced red onions. Diced tomatoes. Sliced black olives (for the California crowd). Diced tomatoes. Mexican cole slaw/sliced cabbage. A bowl of sour cream or Mexican crema agria. Whole Jalapenos for the show offs. And a whole bunch of clearly labeled salsas, ranging from mild to "Wear an asbestos tongue guard!" I almost always include a large bowl (or cast iron frying pan) full of seasoned refried beans. Only occasionally do I also include Mexican rice.

      You mention crispy pork, and there are tons of recipes on line for carnitas. My problem with carnitas is that they do tend to dry out or turn juicy and soggy when kept warm for more than a few minutes. I would also include some pulled pork. When I do pulled pork, shredded chicken, or shredded beef, I boil them until fall-apart-tender with onions, several cloves of unpeeled garlic, a can of diced green chiles, and some cumin and chile powder (usually Gebhardt's). then remove to a platter, cool and shred with a couple of forks. The meat or poulty is the defining flavor, so even though they are all cooked in the same basic broth, they taste different. And a good lean brisket works great for the beef, shoulder for the pork, or the cheapest whole chickens you can find.

      If the build-it-yourself taco idea doesn't appeal to you, thenf or 25 people I would absolutely switch to enchiladas! Figuring a minimum of three tacos per person, there's no way you can assemble 75 tacos and serve them while they are still anything less than mush. Well, let me modify that. You COULD do rolled tacos (flautas, taquitos, whatever you want to call them) for a crowd, but that takes a minimum of six per person. I strongly urge build-it-yourself or enchiladas!

      I try to limit this menu to nice warm and windless rainless days so I can serve it outside. It doesn't matter how "civilized" and "house broken" the guests are, tacos are an incredibly messy meal. Especially when served buffet style and eat where you like.

      Good luck! And GREAT success!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1
        c oliver Jul 17, 2010 04:20 PM

        I think ALL of your ideas are great ones! I like to cook a pork shoulder in the slow cooker. I rub with the appropriate seasonings, brown, put in the slow cooker with onions, garlic, jalapenos (and other peppers of one's choice) and about 1/4 c tequila. Set on low.

        1. re: Caroline1
          lestblight Jul 19, 2010 07:47 AM

          thank you.

          im torn between carnitas and pulled pork.. i like the slight crisp of a carnita but could i get a similar effect with frying pulled pork? a light fry so it crisps.

          can someone recommend a carnita recipe you trust? and any notes you feel are relevant?

          thanks again

          1. re: lestblight
            Caroline1 Jul 19, 2010 08:55 AM

            The problem may be more like what is crisp when it comes out of the pan may well be dry or soggy by the time people build their tacos. If you want any time at all with your guests, I would simply go for a well seasoned pulled pork. If you don't mind spending all of your time in the kitchen, then you can do carnitas in small batches and keep replenishing them throughout the meal. Me? I'd go for time with the guests! '-)

            As for the tortillas, it's all in what brand you buy. Now's the time to start checking out what is available. If you live in an area where there are some small, local tortillerias, they may be a good bet, but try them ahead of time! I had no problem getting great tortillas when I lived in California, and no problem getting great tortillas when I lived in El Paso. Since moving to the DFW metroplex, I cannot find tortillas that crisp when I fry them as taco shells! Extremely frustrating. I don't know if it's the humidity here or what. And surprisingly, the best (imo) tortillas I've found so far are Walmart's Great Value brand. Now, that's sad. I've tried tortilleriias, Mexican markets, the whole nine yards. Walmart! Can you believe it?

        2. m
          mare Jul 17, 2010 03:52 PM

          Instead of pork shoulder, consider grilled pork tenderloin. I make a marinade that results in a crispy exterior and succulent interior. Then you slice it thin, and allow guests to pile it on the soft tacos themselves. You could also grill the skirt steak at the same time.
          Good to cook both medium rare, will continue cooking and good whether piping hot or room temperature.
          It would be great with chimichurri type sauce, guacamole, prepared mango salsa, sour cream, fresh tomato-corn jalapeno relish, so everyone could pile on whatever appealed to them.
          I would find a good brand of tortillas before the event, usually fresh local brands are best. Simply cook up in a fry pan each side for about 15 seconds and they should soften and be nice and warm (put in low oven, on plate to keep them warm until serving.) Get a helper for this. Mix it up -use both flour and corn.
          Here is a link to the marinade. http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes... Just use it for pork tenderloin, cook about 8 minutes per side on a medium hot grill.
          It won a Beef Contest about 15 years ago, but is excellent on pork or flank steak. (Probably best to do something different than this marinade on the skirt steak for variety.)
          I would serve with corn on the cob, fruit salad or watermelon, and chips, of course.

          1. paulj Jul 17, 2010 04:24 PM

            What kind of tortilla do you have in mind? Crisp U shape or soft corn? Do you have a source for good tortillas. If not, do you have experience making your own?

            2 Replies
            1. re: paulj
              lestblight Jul 19, 2010 07:39 AM

              theres a tortilla factory i can get tortillas from. but i just dont want dry and flat tortillas

              any suggestions on ways to remedy this?

              if need be - i will make but id rather not.

              i know its easier said then done.. but i do love a challenge.

              1. re: lestblight
                o
                ospreycove Jul 19, 2010 07:45 AM

                If you want a little "crust" on the shoulder I suggest a 250*F oven for at least 8 hours; compared to a slow cooker. In a slow cooker you will get more soupy, and stringy meat. The slow roast shoulder, or "Overnight Sunday Pork," is a Mario Batali simple preparation. Easy to reheat and seasoned as you like.

                For the tortillas; do you have a hispanic friend, (female), the men are not the tortilla makers in my friends' families. Freshly made tortillas just off the comal would be a nice addition!

            2. corneygirl Jul 19, 2010 08:16 AM

              To get un-dry tortillas fry them in fat. I usually spray/brush a little canola on each side, but sometimes I have SO (one of those can't gain weight if he tries types) fry them as he is less judicious with the fat then I am and they are extra delicious.

              1 Reply
              1. re: corneygirl
                o
                ospreycove Jul 19, 2010 08:20 AM

                The only way to get true Jalisco (Guadalahara) style tortillas for tacos is to make them at service, no grease needed.

              2. Phurstluv Jul 19, 2010 03:59 PM

                I concur with the other hounders that this is a bit of a hard thing to pull off, but it's not impossible.

                If you have a convection oven, you could make the carnitas hot & crispy without frying in fat, have your pork shoulder already cooked, and take hunks of it, and convection bake or broil at about 300 for a few minutes to heat it up, then shred up the meat and put back in to crisp. You will most likely get best results doing this in batches, not all at once.

                Skirt steak is best cooked fast & hot, so grilling or broiling would be the best way to do it, and leave it a bit rarer than you normally would, as it will continue to cook, especially if it's sitting in a chafing dish or warmer.

                I don't really have any advice re: the tortillas, and everyone seems to like theirs a certain way. I live in LA and have had my housekeeper from Guatemala make them for us for parties, so I haven't encountered what you have, but they are best when made fresh. Packaged ones, though we use them all the time, just don't have the same flavor and texture as freshly made ones.

                For a sauce, you may want to try a chipotle-mayo or crema. Adding a tbsp or more of chipotle chiles in adobo, finely minced to some mayonnaise or sour cream with a splash of fresh lime juice is delicious, esp on the steak. Or you could do the same with an avocado crema, and a dressing with roasted pepitas, cilantro, lime & sour cream whirred in your processor would also be tasty.

                Good luck!!

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