Who cares if it’s already November? It’s always taco season to me. Just because you’re not at the beach doesn’t mean you can’t stuff fresh corn tortillas with your favorite fillings and have a little taco party in your apartment. It might be sweater weather outside, but that shouldn’t stop you. I’m my best self when I’m at Rockaway Beach, drinking out of a coconut, and eating tacos from any of the awesome vendors out there. So, when ZICO contacted me about creating a recipe for them using their new Chilled Coconut Water + Juice Blends, I knew I wanted to make tacos, because, and I don’t know if you’ve figured this out, yet – I. Love. Tacos. Initially, I thought that the blends might be on the sweeter side, but I was wrong – they tasted just like regular OJ, but with ZICO’s 100% natural coconut water added. With these blends, you get all the benefits of coconut water, like electrolytes, as well as the flavor punch of real orange juice, which you expect in a traditional carnitas marinade. I like orange juice, I like coconut water, so why not put them together? Kind of genius. These carnitas are incredibly flavorful and perfect for eating all week long, as a quick weekday lunch over a salad or for tacos again and again after work. You really can’t get sick of tacos because there are so many ways to eat them. Top them with sour cream, avocado, and radishes, or maybe go for a really spicy salsa with pickled jalapeños. You can add the crispy pork skin for chicharrón tacos, or maybe get really fancy and do the thing that turns any dish into everyone’s favorite thing in the world: top it with a fried egg. I made these on a Sunday night for some friends that we had over, and everyone seriously approved. I know this because we all went back for at least two or three more. Go the extra mile and crisp up some of these juicy carnitas in a pan to up your taco game – I promise, it’ll be worth it. Just don’t forget the guac!
If you had a weekend like mine, you’re probably ready for some tacos, honestly. I pretty much survived on candy (and candy alone) this weekend. On Friday night, we went to our friend’s office for their amazing Halloween party. I was Han Solo (obviously), but I decided to leave my blaster at home for fear that New York City cops would think I was carrying an actual weapon. Kramer dressed as a left-shark (photos to come), and he really killed it on the dance floor. We were home at a semi-reasonable time, with pockets stuffed with candy, of course. After a Mounds bar or two, we went to bed, then got ourselves together in time to drive out to Long Island to see our friends, go trick-or-treating with their adorable one-year-old daughter, and watch the Mets. The poor, poor Mets. We thought maybe they could do it! But alas, victory was not on New York’s side this year. We tried to stay up last night to watch the whole game, but by midnight, we were both asleep on the couch and had to call it a night. We knew it was over, though. Sigh. Anyway, after the game on Saturday, when the Mets still stood a chance, we played some pool, threw some darts, then Kramer and our friend, Tom, stayed up a little later (thanks, daylight savings!) and I went to bed. In the morning, our friend Valerie made us feel like we were staying in a bed-and-breakfast. She made eggs, bacon, pico, pumpernickel toast, and Bloody Marys – quite the treat for us, indeed. We drove home and I spent the day not doing anything. I didn’t cook, I didn’t edit photos – nothing. We just chilled on the couch, watched The Leftovers, watched the Mets, and then went to bed. Somehow, I’m a little tired this morning, but I’ll blame that on the Mets.
Grab your ingredients.
Blend your marinade ingredients together.
Then add in your ZICO.
Salt your pork well.
Then rub your marinade all over, refrigerate for as long as overnight, then simply pop the whole thing into the oven to roast until fall-apart tender.
Build your tacos however you like.
I like mine with radishes and avocado, but go nuts – tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, whatever you see fit. There’s no “right” way to build a taco!
- 1 8-pound pork shoulder
- ½ cup ZICO Chilled Orange Juice Blend
- 2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 canned chipotle peppers (from a can – reserve the rest for another use)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chipotle paste (from the can)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Soft corn tortillas, lightly charred or warmed
- Sour cream
- Red onions
- Sliced radishes
- Sliced avocados or guacamole
- If your pork shoulder is bone-in and skin-on, make sure that it is tied for even cooking, then remember to score the skin on the diagonal with a sharp knife. If you pork is boneless, you can either tie it as you would a bone-in roast, or cut it into large, 3-inch sized cubes. There are benefits to both – bone-in leaves you with more flavor, plus you get some of the crispy skin in the end, but boneless is easier to serve in the end. I leave it to you!
- In a blender or food processor, combine your ZICO Chilled Orange Juice Blend, shallots, garlic, chipotle peppers, olive oil, chipotle paste, salt, paprika, oregano, peppercorns, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves until a smooth paste forms. Place your pork roast or cubed pork in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle the skin with a little extra salt (if it’s bone-in), and then rub it well with the marinade you’ve just made. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.
- When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place your pork in the oven, covered, and roast for 2 ½ - 3 hours. Check on it at 2 ½ hours by sticking a fork in it and seeing if it is tender enough to shred. When ready, you can either shred the pork or cube it, depending on your preference. To make it extra crispy, heat a cast iron pan with a little oil over high head, and place your cubed or shredded pork in the pan for 5 minutes, until crisp. Build your tacos as you see fit and enjoy! This will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.