Leena Cooks: Spicy Pork tacos with salsa verde and pickled onions

By on Mar 14, 2011 in Leena Cooks, Mains, Meat, Pork | 0 comments

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My spicy pork tacos with salsa verde and pickled onions. I love the tanginess the onions give the taco!

Since my gestational diabetes has been preventing me from rocking out all the baked goods my little pregnant heart desires, I’ve been ramping up my savory cooking skills. I am a HUGE fan of dishes that yield a large portion of cooked meat that can be saved for multiple meals, like smoking meats and roasting. This recipe, which originates from New Classic Family Dinners, written by Campanile restaurant in L.A.’s chef Mark Peel, relies on braised, shredded pork for the dish.

See the twist I put on the recipe and more food porn after the jump.

Step one: rub the pork shoulder cubes with the spice mix and let sit for as long as possible, preferably two days. Have your butcher chop up the shoulder for you–it will save you a ton of time.
Browning the pork is next, and do it in small batches so the pan doesn’t get overcrowded.
Once all the pork has been browned, it gets added back to the pan with some water and cloves of garlic. Then it’s into the oven with a lid to braise!
The finished braised pork.
The spicy braised pork, finely shredded and ready for tacos!

The salsa recipe is super easy (really–once I burned all the veggies and it still tasted great!), and I’ll post it below. Combine the warm shredded pork with warm corn tortillas, my salsa verde, and these pickled onions, and you got yourself a damn fine meal. Leftovers are great for quesadillas, enchiladas, sandwiches, chili…just about anything!

Recipe: Mark Peel’s Spicy Braised Pork

Summary: From Mark Peel’s New Classic Family Dinners


  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 2 t cracked black pepper
  • 1 T mild or hot ground chili powder
  • ½ t cayenne
  • 1 T sweet paprika (I used smoked sweet paprika)
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 4-5 pounds of pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 8 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups of beer


  1. Mix the first six ingredients in a small dry skillet, and toast for a few minutes over medium heat until you can smell the spices. Remove from heat, mix in salt and garlic powder, and set aside.
  2. A few days before you want to eat the tacos, ideally 2-3 (but less time is fine), mix the spices with the canola oil to make a paste, and rub all over pork shoulder pieces. Place in a zip lock bag or covered container in the fridge until ready to cook.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat canola oil in a large pot until shimmering, and then brown off the pork pieces, a few at a time until all pork is done. Place browned pork on a plate.
  4. Add in the onions and cook until slightly soft, a few minutes. Add in the garlic, the water, and the browned pork. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover with a lid and place in the oven.
  5. Braise the pork for two hours, or until it is tender enough for you to ripe it apart with a fork. Remove from oven, allow to cool, then shred the meat for the tacos.

Quick Notes

Serve 12. Recipe can easily be halved.

Microformatting by hRecipe.

Recipe: Leena’s Salsa Verde


  • 2 T canola oil
  • 6 large tomatillos, husks removed and halved
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, halved
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium lime, juiced
  • 1/2 large avocado
  • salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place the tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and unpeeled garlic cloves on to a baking sheet, and drizzle with a tiny bit of canola oil. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, then turn on broiler until all the veggies develop a bit of a char. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Peeled the baked garlic, and add it and the rest of the cooked veggies to a blender, including any juices that leaked out. Throw in the cilantro leaves, the lime juice, and the 2 peeled cloves of uncooked garlic. Add water as needed to puree the mixture.
  4. Once mix is pureed, add the avocado and salt to taste, along with more water as needed to make the salsa loose and pourable. Taste, adjust salt, and then serve with tacos! Stays good in the fridge for up to a week and a half if kept in a covered container. Makes a great salad dressing!

Microformatting by hRecipe.


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