My favorite GO-TO recipe for my signature tacos! These are packed with spicy flavor thanks to the addition of chipotle powder, and topped with homemade crunchy pickled radishes & jalapenos for a tangy bite!
I hold Taco Tuesday in my house religiously every single week.
What you won’t find on my table though, is the basic taco; A.K.A. spice-packet-seasoned ground beef in a stale taco shell topped with shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar, and diced tomatoes. You all know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m very aware that I’m white, and indeed had to consume a fair amount of basic tacos in my childhood years, but being born and raised in Arizona, I’ve consumed enough tacos to know whether it was someone’s grandma that made them, versus someone’ abuela; so if you see “tacos-making” under the skills portion of my resume, it’s because I’ve certainly made/eaten enough of them to be overly qualified.
I love thinking outside the box when I make tacos, but when in doubt, I always turn to these tacos right here. I really should rename them to “Taco De Kaylee” because these really are my signature go-to tacos. They’re incredibly flavorful, everything can be made ahead of time, and they are SO easy to make (and unfortunately, way too easy to consume 5 or 6).
To be honest, I secretly call these “Man-Catcher Tacos” in my head, I just didn’t know if that would be an appropriate name to use for my title, ha! Let me explain. The first time I came up with these, I was making dinner for my boyfriend at the time, and he thought they were the best thing to ever touch his lips, and every Tuesday he would ask when could I make “those bomb tacos” again. So ladies, if you’re looking to snatch up a hunk of your own, make him these. Let me just warn you, he may follow up his first bite with the question, “When can we move in together?”
Though everything about these tacos are pure perfection, my favorite part has to be the pickled jalapenos and radishes. People get so impressed when you tell them you pickled them yourself. Little do they know, all you did was throw some slices into a jar and submerge them in vinegar and a hefty pinch of salt. That’s it. But they are a must! They add the perfect amount of bright tangy flavor and subtle crunch. I usually make a double batch of these guys considering they are perfectly delicious eaten by the fork-full.
- For the pork, I use a cheap, fatty cut of meat, like the shoulder (also called pork butt). Dice it up into about 2 inch chunks and coat with a mixture of chipotle powder from Sonoran Spice Company, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and pepper. It’s my absolute FAVORITE spice blend and I use it on everything. I might even try using it as a facial exfoliate. It’s that good (actually, please don’t try that. I don’t want to be held responsible for any clogged pores and breakouts). A little helpful trick I do, is that I like to toss my pork and spice mixture right into the slow cooker to mix it all together, that way it saves me one less bowl to clean up! I then sear the pork in a screaming hot pan until it’s brown and caramelized. This step is completely optional, but it adds depth of flavor, and sexy deep-golden exterior. Throw it all in my slow cooker with a splash of apple cider vinegar and set it on low for 8-10 hours. Your pork will be so tender at this point, that you won’t even need a fork to shred it. It will basically fall apart by just looking at it. Shred it up and mix into all of it’s fatty juices so that it can absorb it.
- For the pickled radishes and jalapenos, I strongly recommend using a mandolin to slice these babies, because unless you have knife skills like Bobby Flay, you probably won’t be able to get thin even slices, and it will take you about as long to slice them as it takes the pork to cook. This is what I like to call a “no-recipe-recipe”. Meaning that, you really don’t even need to follow any recipe to make these. Just throw all of the slices into a jar and pour in enough apple cider vinegar to cover them.
Add in a heavy pinch of salt, screw on the lid and shake to combine. These can be made way in advance. I’m talking hours, days, probably even weeks! Just give them at least 3-4 hours to soak before serving; and do yourself a favor and make a double batch, because you’ll be finding every excuse to add these onto everything, including your morning coffee.
- Now for perhaps the most crucial part of this whole process- the tortillas. Look at it as your tacos bra. It holds everything together nice and tight, so pay close attention. I am obsessed with these un-cooked tortillas that I find at my grocery store either in the section near the refrigerated pie crusts and cookie dough or by the refrigerated salsa and cheese; but of course, you can also use regular corn tortillas. They won’t be as sturdy and thick as the raw ones that you have to cook yourself, so I like to double up and use 2 tortillas per taco. To prepare the already-cooked tortillas, plunge them into water and char them in a smoking hot pan until they are slightly blackened around the edges. For the uncooked tortillas, follow the package directions (I still like to make sure I get a nice little char on the outside of those as well, so I crank up the heat).
- For toppings, I use a mixture of chopped white onions and fresh cilantro then finish them off with a heavy dusting of cotija cheese. Now for anyone who is even thinking about finishing them off with a dollop of sour cream, possibly a hand full of lettuce, or maybe even some sliced black olives, don’t. Just don’t.
Chipotle Pork Tacos + Pickled Jalapenos & Radishes
Shredded Chipotle Pork
- 2 Pounds Pork Shoulder or butt
- 1 tbsp Sonoran Spice Chipotle Powder
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- Olive Oil
Pickled Jalapenos & Radishes
- 2-3 Jalapenos
- 4-6 Radishes
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- 20 Corn Tortillas (See Notes)
- 1/2 yellow or white onion
- 1/2 cup Cilantro Chopped
- Cotija Cheese
For the Pork
- If your pork has an extra large layer of fat, you can trim off some of the fat, but do not remove all of it. Cut into 2-3 inch chunks and evenly coat pork with spices (I like to do this in the slow cooker so I can use one less bowl).
- Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and drizzle with oil. Sear pork on all sides until browned; you may need to do this in batches to prevent from over-crowding the pan (searing the meat is optional, but adds color and flavor).
- Remove and add to slow cooker. Pour in vinegar and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred pork and stir into it’s juices.
Pickled Jalapenos & Radishes
- Using a mandolin, slice jalapenos and radishes very thin, discarding the root ends. Place slices into a jar and pour over apple cider vinegar until completely submerged. Add in a heavy pinch of salt, screw on lid, and shake to combine. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (these can be made days in advance and last quite a long time in the fridge).
- In a small-medium bowl, mix together cilantro and diced onion; set aside (this can also be done ahead of time).
- Preheat a dry sauté pan over high heat until very hot. Dip each tortilla into a bowl of water and sear on each side until slightly charred around the edges. Place onto a plate and cover with a kitchen towel while you heat the remaining tortillas.
- To assemble, use 2 tortillas per taco (to prevent them from falling apart) and fill each taco with shredded pork, chopped cilantro/onion, pickled jalapenos/radishes, and sprinkle with cotija cheese.