This is Carolina barbeque meets Mexico City street food. In short, me gusta!
The ingredient list looks long, and it is. If you're not a compulsive spice hoarder like me, you can certainly feel free to leave a few of these out, unless you feel like stocking your spice cabinet. This would also be just fine if you don't happen to have Pacifico lying around - any other beer (or chicken stock, or beef broth, or water) would work just fine. And if you can't find the curious cut of meat called a "pork picnic?" You guessed it - not to worry. Any old cheap cut of pork (or beef) would work beautifully.
In fact, even after eating about a quarter of our pork picnic, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you exactly what it is - but at $4 for 2-3 lbs., you can bet it was a part of the pig you would not want to eat unless you'd cooked it all day. All I know is, I fished out what was unmistakably a ball joint bone from the Crockpot, so I'm guessing it was either a shoulder cut or a hind-quarters cut. Regardless of where on the little porky guy it came from, it was downright delicious after a juicy all-night bath and about 10 hours in the slow cooker.
Despite its formidable ingredient list, this dish is definitely worth making! It was inspired by a post on Smitten Kitchen which originally used beef brisket. I've made a similar dish with beef before, and it was great. At this point in the post, I sound like a broken record, so I'll wrap it up and take you to the directions. I hope you like this as much as Ross and I did!
Wait, wait, one more thing! Sorry about the grainy photos - none of our cameras had charged batteries, so I resorted to snapping pics of this on my iPhone - it was too good not to document! Better photos next time, promise :-)
1 large pork...piece (mine was called, as mentioned earlier, a "pork picnic" - basically a big hunk of cheap meat; mine was about 3 lbs. before being cooked - a lot of it cooks off, and you'll need to discard some fat both before and after cooking)
3 T. olive oil
1 bottle Pacifico beer
1 14.5-oz. can "Mexican" diced tomatoes and all juices
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T. cumin
1-2 T. hot Mexican chili powder
1 T. paprika
1 cinnamon stick
juice of 2 limes
2 bay leaves
several heaping spoonfuls brown sugar
a few dashes cayenne pepper
1/2 T. ground coriander
salt and black pepper
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 onion, julienned
2 poblano peppers, julienned
fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of one lime
sour cream (I used light)
one 28-oz can Mexican-spiced black beans, drained
one can Mxican-spiced tomatoes and all juices
fresh chopped cilantro
MORE NOTES ON SWAPS: If you want to skip the poblano/onion topping and sour cream-lime sauce, be my guest. This would ve fine topped with any taco fixin's you like...and under tons of melty, gooey cheese...? [CUT TO EXTREME CLOSE UP OF ME DROOLING.] If you like flour tortillas, use those. If you want to skip the taco building altogether and stand over the crockpot and eat the damn pork with a spoon, I wouldn't blame you.
The night before you want to eat this (or the morning of), trim the pork of any big pieces of obvious fat, and heat the oil in a pan and brown the pork on both sides, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper, until browned.
Meanwhile, in your Crockpot's interior pot (the one that can be removed, not the electrical part), add the beer, tomatoes, lime juice, all spices, onion, garlic, and brown sugar. When the pork is browned, transfer it to the liquid. Turn off the heat in the browning pan and pour in the vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Pour this into the Crockpot too. Cover and refrigerate until the morning.
Place the inner pot into the Crockpot and turn on low. Cook for 8-10 hours. Remove the pork from the pot and place on a plate or cutting board. With two forks, shred the meat, discarding any too-fatty bits. Meanwhile, strain the cooking liquid over a pot. Boil until reduced by half. Return the shredded pork and about 1 cup of the reduced liquid to the pot and mix together (you can also skip this step entirely - or, you can use an immersion blender to puree the wilted veggies and juices together - whatever you prefer).
In a pan, heat the other 1 T. oil. Cook the poblano peppers and onions until softened, seasoning with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together the fresh chopped cilantro, juice of one lime, and a few big spoonfuls of sour cream. Set aside, refigerated.
Place the beans and tomatoes in a pot. Boil until much of the tomato juices have steamed off and the mixture has thickened. Stir in the fresh cilantro. Serve in individual cups or small bowls. Serve the shredded pork in the tortillas, top with the poblano/onion mixture and sour cream-lime sauce. Serve with the beans & tomato. Enjoy!