Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spicy Sweet Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

This is one of my favorite easy ways to cook tacos and I found it because someone (Moriah), for reasons I will never know or ask, left two open two-liter bottles of Dr. Pepper at my house post-party.  Since I can't waste it I had to figure out a way to use it up, but me?  Drink soda?  Never.

This is a recipe I got from the Pioneer Woman - just add the cola to some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, throw it in the slow cooker on top of a hunk of meat and wait.  The smoky, spicy peppers mixed with the caramel-y sweetness is a perfect pairing with pork, but also great with chicken or beef.  Sometimes I throw some onions and garlic in the mix, but you can leave them out and it still turns out wonderful once you shred it or chop it up.

One tip from me regarding the chipotle peppers: I love them, but they are kind of hard to use.  You open a whole can, and can only use a very small portion of it - this stuff is crazy spicy, so don't overdo it or you'll end up with a lot of inedible food.  I like to take the whole can and blitz it in my mini food processor, and then scrape whatever I don't use right away into a small plastic bag and store it in the freezer.  Take it out anytime, defrost for a few seconds in the microwave and add a spoonful to chili, guacamole, enchilada sauce, soup, or anything you want to give a little smoke and a lot of spice!

Spicy Sweet Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

2-3 cups Dr. Pepper, or other cola (not diet)
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1/2 white onion, sliced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, smashed (optional)
2-3 pounds pork, chicken or beef
Salt and pepper
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
Black peppercorns, optional
Tortillas, avocado, cilantro and sour cream for serving

Add the meat and vegetables (if using) to a slow cooker.  Combine the soda and peppers and pour over the meat until mostly covered.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for up to eight hours on low or 4 hours on high, until the meat is cooked through. 

White meat is cooking, pickle the onions.  Steep sliced onions in very hot water for five minutes, until softened.  Meanwhile, mix the vinegar, sugar, salt and peppercorns in a jar large enough to hold the onions, and shake to combine.  Add the onions to the jar and allow to marinate in the refrigerator a minimum of 30 minutes, but preferably longer.
When meat is cooked, remove to a cutting board and let cool.  Pour the slow cooker juices into a separate container and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle, shred or chop the meat.  Add the meat back to the slow cooker and set to warm or low.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop the vegetables from the juices and add to the meat.  Spoon some of the juice over the meat, just enough to keep it from drying out.

Build the tacos with the tortillas, meat and picked onions.  Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and sour cream.  Enjoy!

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