Guess what today is? Yep, Friday. Guess what else? Give up? It’s National Taco Day!! I was so excited to hear this that I spent half the morning scheming on some badass tacos to make for dinner. Then, while my giddiness was at a fever pitch, I learned that this is also National Kale Day. Now, normally, I would embrace Kale Day with all the fervor of a schoolgirl on the first day of summer. I love kale. But, today was taco day until it was taco and kale day. Suddenly, kale seemed more like a boring wet blanket. A downer. I had to rethink my plans. Sure, I could ignore the kale altogether, but, as previously stated, I do have a love affair with the power food so it felt wrong to turn my back on it’s earthy goodness. So, to be fair and still indulge in the day’s festivities, I settled on Cosmo Tacos. I call them Cosmo tacos because, as the long form of the word is defined, these tacos are worldly. They are Mexican at heart, using traditionally cooked, alternatively spiced pork carnitas. The braising of the pork is done using Guinness beer, an Irish contribution to Earth that I deeply appreciate. The tacos are layered with wilted kale and radicchio, making them a little bit Euro, a little American, and one hundred percent OMFG good. Added bonus of calling them Cosmo Tacos: our youngest daughter’s middle name is Cosmopolitan…and she’s pretty much the bees knees. Atop the sticky, tender pork I crumble cotija, a crumbly cow’s milk cheese from Mexico. Adding a little crunch and tangy heat, a relish-like salsa of finely sliced red onion and shaved red radish. These sophisticated gems dance across your tongue and seem to light up every flavor receptor in the mouth, taking you all over the world in a bite. So, as I spoon up some cilantro lime rice and dig in to this celebratory meal, I say to you, dear reader, Happy Taco Day! …and kale, too.
2-2.5 Lbs Pork shoulder or butt, fat trimmed
1 white onion
1 can Guinness or stout ale
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil
Cut pork into 2″ cubes, slice onion in half. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Working in batches, brown cubes of pork on all sides. Return all pork to pot and add onion, add enough beer to cover pork. Add all spices. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and let cook for 2 1/2 hrs. Remove pork pieces and set aside, discard onion and bay leaf. Bring heat back up to medium and allow liquids to evaporate, leaving behind oils and fats. Using the rendered fat, brown each piece of pork, crisping the outside. Transfer to deep dish or large bowl. Using forks, break up pork, leaving some larger pieces.
Notes: You can omit the beer and use water. If serving as an entree, do not shred, leave pieces whole.
Red Onion and Radish Relish (aka, Sweet and Spicy Salsa Fresca)
1 red onion, finely sliced
3 red radishes, shaved or thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
Good handful of cilantro, chopped
1 medium sized tomato, finely diced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of two limes
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Salt to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar and brown sugar. Add remaining ingredients and toss generously.
Wilted Purple Kale & Radicchio
1 bunch purple kale (green is fine), chopped or torn, stems removed
1 head radicchio, chopped
2 Tbs butter
Splash apple cider vinegar
1/4 C water
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, add kale and radicchio. Toss to coat in butter, add splash of vinegar and water, cover. Let steam for approximately 8 minutes. Uncover and toss. Remove from heat.
Cilantro Lime Rice
1 Cup long grain rice
2 Cups water
1 Tbs coconut oil (veg oil ok)
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
In a deep skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add rice to oil, stirring frequently to prevent browning. When rice turns opaque, approximately 2 minutes, add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow to steam 10-15 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork. If rice is underdone, allow to cook a few minutes longer. Rice is NOT as scary as the legend would have you believe. It’s okay to check it once or twice.
Transfer cooked rice to a large bowl and add cilantro & lime juice, tossing with forks to combine. Add salt to taste.