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Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style & Austin-Style Black Beans {The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off}

When I was offered the chance to host a Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off featuring the upcoming cookbook by Lisa Fain, The Homesick Texan, I jumped at the opportunity!  I have been a fan of her blog and her food for a long time now...and most of  you know of my affinity for Tex-Mex food (it sits pretty close to Mexican as my favorite).  While I want to make pretty much every single thing in the book, I figured I needed to start somewhere, and where better to begin than with some tacos.  Fain's description of "Dallas's gas station taco belt" with offerings that range from picadillo to tongue reminded me of the taquerias in my own town.  Stuffed with flavorful, savory fillings and sprinkled with the usual cilantro and onion...with the addition of a roasted jalapeño like we often include at home...I had a hunch these would go over well at our house.  And they did.  These little cubes of porky goodness just melted in your mouth.  With a side of some tasty black beans (done Austin-style), we happily licked our fingers at the picnic table while washing everything down with cold cervezas and Jarritos.
Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style
adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
makes 4-6 servings

for the pork
4 pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into ½" chunks
1 canned chipotle in adobo
4 garlic cloves
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. ground cumin
small pinch ground cloves
¼ c. orange juice
¼ c. pineapple juice
1 Tbs. white vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
salt, to taste
1 Tbs. vegetable oil

for the tacos
6 jalapeños
tortillas, flour or corn
cilantro, chopped
yellow onion, small dice
1 lime, cut into wedges/slices
Toast pasillas in a dry skillet over high heat for ~10 seconds per side, or until they start to puff and change colors.  Fill skillet with enough water to cover chiles and bring to a boil.  Turn off heat and let chiles rehydrate until soft, ~30 minutes.

Place re-hydrated chiles in blender (discard soaking liquid) along with the chipotle, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, orange juice, pineapple juice, vinegar, and olive oil.  Blend to a smoth purée.  Add salt to taste.  Toss pork with purée (I put everything into a gallon ziploc bag).  Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Before cooking, let pork sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Fry pork in the skillet for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Now...when it comes to pork shoulder, my personal preference is a longer cooking time, otherwise the meat is a bit chewy and tough. So, after the pork cooked down for 15 minutes, I added two cups of water, covered the pan and let it simmer down.  I repeated this for one hour, adding more water as needed, until the pork wound up just coated with the "sauce" as it was after the first 15 minutes.  The pork was super tender and retained the fantastic flavor that (I believe) was intended.

While pork is cooking, place jalapeños under broiler and cook for ~10 minutes, or until blackened, turning once.  Serve pork in warm tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions, along with the roasted chiles and lime wedges...and salsa, if you like.
Austin-Style Black Beans
from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
makes 8-10 svgs.

1 lb. dried black beans
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
½ c. cilantro, divided
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbs. tomato paste
¼ c. lime juice
salt, to taste

Rinse and sort through beans, discarding any stones or shriveled beans.

Place beans in a large pot and cover with 1" of water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.

Drain and rinse the beans in a colander in the sink.

Return the empty pot to the stove and on medium-low heat, warm the vegetable oil.  Add onions and carrots to pot and cook until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally, ~8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.

Return beans to the pot along with the chipotles and half of the cilantro.  Cover with 2" water, bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low and simmer uncovered for ~1½ hours.

Add remaining cilantro, cumin, tomato paste, and lime juice.  Season to taste with salt.  Cook uncovered for another 30 minutes, or until beans are tender all the way through (will vary depending on the freshness of your beans).  When done, smash a few beans against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken, if you wish.  Stir and serve.
*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted (right here!) at girlichef*

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