When asked where to go for Mexican or Tex-Mex in Austin, there really isn't one simple answer. Taco lovers will debate Torchy's vs. Tacodeli (Torchy's all day), locals usually pick whatever family favorite they were raised on, and sometimes it depends on the adventurousness of the company. When among food lovers, though, there's no choice better than the "inspired by Mexican soulfood" menu at Licha's Cantina. Located in the cutest little bungalow in East Austin, both the atmosphere and food can't be beat.
These Achiote Pork Tacos are my take on Licha's Cochinita Pibil, which comes with pickled onions, guacamole, and queso fresco. Instead of serving with tortillas on the side, I turned it into a taco, and swapped out the guacamole for a creamy avocado salsa. These are seriously the best tacos I've ever made. So good, in fact, that I made them twice in a week. They're great for a weeknight meal and for entertaining because the pork slow cooks for 8 hours, and can just be scooped into a taco come dinnertime. Make. This. Pork. Put it on everything.
Achiote Pork Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa and Pickled Onions
Servings: about 8 tacos
For the Pork
- 3 lbs bone in pork shoulder
- 2 T. achiote paste (in the Hispanic foods section of most grocery stores)
- 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1/3 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 t. minced garlic
- 1 T. Mexican oregano
- 1 t. ground cumin
- 1 t. smoked paprika
- 1 t. chili powder
- 1 t. ground coriander
- 3/4 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t. ground allspice
- Heavy pinch each of salt and pepper
- 5-6 tomatillos, husked and wiped clean
- 1 jalapeno
- 2-3 avocados, depending on size
- 2 cloves garlic
- Handful of fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, about 1/4 cup packed
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional drizzle of honey, to taste
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 t. kosher salt
- Queso fresco, crumbled
- Corn or flour tortillas
- Place pork in the bowl of a slow cooker, and rub achiote paste thoroughly into all surfaces, being sure to get under the fat and around the folds as much as possible.
- Mix remaining pork marinade ingredients in a bowl, and pour over the meat. Marinate overnight, turning the pork at least once during marinating period, as it will not be fully submerged.
- Mix all ingredients for pickled onions together in sealed container, let sit at room temperature at least an hour. Move to fridge overnight. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.
- Set slow cooker on low and cook pork for 8 hours.
- Preheat broiler to high or 450 degrees. Brush tomatillos and jalapeño with a little olive oil, and broil until blackened, turning to blacken each side. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In a blender, blend all salsa ingredients until desired consistency. You may want to add half of the jalapeño, without seeds, first and then add additional jalapeño from there if you want more spice.
- Assemble the tacos and eat!