Friday, September 16, 2011

Annato Seed and Guajilo Braised Pork Tacos

I love mexican cuisine. Real latin flavours. It's extremely balanced - the freshness of a salsa, a warm toasted corn tortilla, spicy and unapologetically so. It's food that's really simple and incredibly delicious. You want more - alot more. I often crave a great taco and it's complex flavours. So I make it at home, cuz I haven't found an awesome place for this kinda stuff in Toronto. At the Black Hoof, there was the pork carnitas on the menu, pork shoulder in an annato seed broth seasoned with some bitter orange, I liked it. So I made it at home, and did it my way. I got some pork shoulder from Sanagan's Meat Locker, my butcher in Kensington Market. I cut it up into nice portions and gave it a nice sear to get some carmelization and build the flavour of the braise. Some guajilo and pasilla chiles were toasted and shredded to give the broth some kick.

I deglazed the pan with water and dissolved the achiote paste into the water. I poured the broth over the pork and let it cook over a low heat for 3 hours. The broth should reduce a lot to get a strong flavour, concentrating the smoky achiote, and earthy chile, not to mention the delicious pork flavour in the broth. I made a nice guacamole with avocado, lime, olive oil, salt and onion brunoise to accompany the braise. I charred some onion, tomatillos, fresh from my garden and some garlic for a salsa. The onion and tomatillo were diced and the garlic finely chopped. A chipolte pepper in adobo was minced for a touch of heat. Lime, olive oil and salt finished it up. I shredded the meat added the sauce and loaded the braised pork mixture into a nice warm corn tortilla.

These were some really excellent tacos. Punchy, strong flavours - what latin cuisine is about. The strong smokiness came through from the achiote and chiles, but was cut by the acid in the charred tomatillo-onion salsa. Guacamole added some smooth richness and refreshed the palette. My parents loved these. My dad. who is semi-vegetarian was happilly indulging in animal flesh, which is very unusual. It one of the simplest things I have made, yet one of the most delicious.