Grilled Pork Shoulder Tacos

with hatch chiles

I’m back in New York! It was nice to get out of the city, despite it being from one hot place to another. I hadn’t been back to the desert in over a year, and it’s always weird to return. Even though I was in Vegas instead of Phoenix, it is still somewhat strangely familiar. The desert pastels, the never ending tan colored dust, the mountains and the dry heat. It all makes me feel like I’m in high school again, which I don’t necessarily love but after a while I eventually get over it. I did feel a pang of unconscious anxiety once I looked out the airplane window and saw vast stretches of dead, dry desert dotted with out of place green patches of civilization. It is nothing short of weird and reminds you that humans are not supposed to be there. I remember when we first moved to the Southwest and I initially saw this view out of the window. I noticed the out of place green, but more importantly I noticed that everyone had a pool. Not just a few people; nearly everyone. When I lived in Phoenix, I couldn’t be bothered with being out near the pool. Now, though, I realize what an incredible luxury being able to jump into cool blue water right in your own backyard is. That was what I was most excited for in Vegas: clean, clear blue pools with fancy mixed drinks and cushy lounge chairs. I dreamt it and it was so.

Grilled Pork Shoulder Tacos

Champagne toast in Vegas.
Valerie’s bachelorette party was pretty awesome. Her fianc√© Tom booked the six of us an unbelievable double suite at The Cosmopolitan with more than twice the square footage of my apartment in Brooklyn. It even had a wrap-around balcony on the 58th floor right in front of the fountain at The Bellagio. It was unlike any previous Vegas experience. We ate great food, had plenty of champagne and relaxed by the pool as much as possible. It was glorious and I didn’t even get sunburned! A miracle in and of itself. We brunched at Bouchon, ate sushi at Social House, enjoyed a private cabana by the Boulevard Pool alongside drinks and enough chips and guacamole to kill a man (thanks to the generous groom), saw the most awesome Prince tribute show ever called Purple Reign, and baby here even experienced her first night club ever at Marquee, which I especially enjoyed as it was fabulous Freedom Sunday and I didn’t have to bounce gross dudes (obviously I took on the bouncer role of our group because I don’t take that crap). I didn’t even get a chance to sleep that last night, but a burger and frozen yogurt at the airport followed by some sleep on the plane fixed all that. Val’s bachelorette party was fantastic, and I know that the wedding will be even better (if that’s possible).

Grilled Pork Shoulder Tacos

This was the glorious pork shoulder that we made at our barbecue the other weekend. I wanted to do something fun on the grill, other than the usual hot dogs and hamburgers, so we went for it. I used a bunch of roasted hatch chiles that my aunt sent me straight from Texas to make a flavorful marinade, then scored the skin and convinced Kramer to help me make this dream a reality. Everyone at the party was really excited by the pork tacos, and I’m so glad that they turned out as well as they did. I was a little nervous – I hadn’t ever done something like this before, and I couldn’t really find much in the way of help online, so I just winged it. Kramer was even more nervous than I was, but after much cajoling, he agreed to let me try this out. The entire shoulder was gone in about thirty minutes, and everyone raved about how delicious the pork was – success, indeed! We topped our tacos with some homemade salsa, chopped red onions, cilantro and a roasted corn and black bean salad that I’ll share with you later this week. Pour all of the juices over the chopped and shredded pork and you’ll be just as fat and happy as we were. I’m going to try a new grilled pork shoulder recipe every summer from here on out after hearing the high praise from our friends, and with Labor Day just around the corner, I think you should, too.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosOur bachelorette party group: Jennifer, Cindy, Valerie (the bride), Lizet, me and Alexis. You can see the view from our room (amazing), our Bouchon brunch, fancy cocktails, me enjoying it all and Val and me by the pool.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosWe had a day in a private cabana (thanks to the groom, Tom) and an incredible view of the Belaggio from our room. We also saw a Prince tribute show (outstanding) and went to Marquee on our last night.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosAlright, so – check out these beautiful hatch chiles that my aunt sent me from Texas!

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosRoast them until the skins are charred.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosThen place them in a bowl and cover so that the skins steam off a bit more before pureeing with the other marinade ingredients.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosPour over the pork, wrap tightly and allow to sit in the fridge overnight.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosPlace in your pan and start in the oven, then finish on the grill (or just do the oven or the grill – it’s up to you).

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosOur beautiful, crispy pork after being on the grill for a bit.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosChop it up and pour the juices over everything.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosThen don’t forget to grill your tortillas.

Grilled Pork Shoulder TacosThen assemble and enjoy.

Grilled Pork Shoulder Tacos

Grilled Pork Shoulder Tacos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 25-30 tacos
Grilled pork shoulder for delicious summer tacos.
For the Pork Marinade:
  • 1 5-pound pork shoulder, skin scored with a knife
  • 8 hatch chiles (or other similarly sized chiles), cleaned and dried
  • 1 cup cilantro, leaves only
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon molasses (optional - add more brown sugar if you don't have molasses)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • small pinch cinnamon (less than ⅛ teaspoon)
For Cooking:
  • 1 12-ounce Mexican beer (I used Negra Modelo)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
For the Tacos:
  • tortillas
  • diced red onion
  • cilantro
  • salsa
  1. Start this the day before you want to eat. First, marinate your pork. You will want to roast your chiles and remove their skins to start. Place your chiles over your gas burner on medium heat (or roast them in a baking tray in a 450 degree F oven) and roast until the skins have blistered, about 5 minutes or so, turning often. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the skins to steam off a bit, then when they are cool to the touch, peel the skins away (it's fine it a little bit sticks to the peppers), remove the tops, roughly chop the chiles, and place them in a food processor with the rest of your marinade ingredients. Pulse the marinade until smooth. Lay out a few sheets of plastic wrap and place your pork shoulder on it. Pour the marinade over the pork and rub it in well, especially into the pieces of skin that you scored. Wrap the pork tightly and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, remember that this is a pork shoulder and it needs to cook low and slow in order for the fat and muscle to break down properly. I started my pork shoulder in the oven at 350 degrees F, then finished on a 350 degree F grill on indirect heat. You can do either both of these or just one, depending on your preference. I was going to a friend's house for a BBQ, so I didn't want to be standing over the grill for 6 or 7 hours.
  3. Alright, so - place your pork in a tray or in a cast iron pan. Pour the beer around it and add the chopped onion around it. I did my pork in a 350 degree F oven for 2 hours, then transferred it, with its juices, to a foil pan and placed on indirect heat on a 350 degree F grill for another 2 hours, until the pork reached close to 180 degrees F. When the pork reached this temperature, remove and cover for 8-10 minutes, then chop or shred as you like. Serve on grilled tortillas with your favorite taco fixings and enjoy.


5 Responses

  1. Yes to desert pastels. Yes to bachelorette parties in Vegas. Yes to Hatch chiles. And yes to these tacos. Just YES.

  2. Tieghan says:

    Holy moly!! first of all Vegas sounds so fun and the photos are awesome!! But this pork!?!? Oh my gosh!! So amazing!!

  3. OH MAN, that cabana looks the business. I would so love to get to Las Vegas one day! And pork tacos, who could not love pork tacos.

  4. Your trip to Vegas sounds amazing! The tacos sound quite awesome too!

  5. It looks like you had so much fun in Vegas! ANd these tacoss, gah, I just want to stuff myself silly with them!

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