One day over the holidays, I asked out loud to a room full of family, “what foods should everyone eat more of in the new year?” (I was planning my first radio segment of January.)
My nephews answered, “apples!” “Vegetables!” The youngest yelled out, “TACOS!!”
Everyone continued with their vaguely healthy resolution-style suggestions. Charlie kept yelling, “TACOS!”
And so it seems fitting to start the new year with tacos. Also, we wound up with two open bottles of nice, local stout, and because no one wants to drink flat beer but it’s perfectly fine for braising meats with, I picked up some pork shoulder. (I told you I don’t like to waste food.)
And who doesn’t have at least a few squidgy mandarins at this time of year? These were juicy and sweet, but soft with drying-out leathery skins, making them tough to peel. I did it over the pot of meat, tucking chunks of peeled orange in the spaces between. It worked beautifully.
You could, of course, do this in the slow cooker, but spending a few minutes giving it a nice crust in a hot pan makes all the difference. And the oven will get the job done a bit faster, with a more condensed flavour and texture.
If you want the meat a bit spicier, rub it with chili powder and cumin before you brown it in the pan. Pull it apart and devour it as is, or pile it into soft tortillas with crumbled feta, avocado and more cilantro.