Monday, February 27, 2012

Redneck Tacos

The Setting: Another day with just enough blue in the sky to trick me into leaving the apartment wearing an inadequate number of layers. But I'll take it!

The Soundtrack: Sweet Oia's snoring.

On the Stove-top: Pinto beans with smoked pork shank.

The Scenario: Typing up the recipes to follow up Saturday's delicious dinner. First up: Redneck Tacos.

There is a lot is misinformation out there when it comes to regional variations in barbecue.

Just type "Tennessee-style BBQ" into your search bar and see how many contradicting descriptions you can find.

After sorting through the pages of "this one seems legit" and "this one's full of hooey," what I believe to be the gist is this:

Memphis is mostly into ribs...

Texas is mostly into brisket...

South Carolina is predominantly known for mustard-based sauce...

Kansas City is known for thicker, tomato-based sauces with a lot of sweetness...

Alabama does a crazy white sauce...

And you'll find all these things in Nashville.

However, when I talk to other Nashvillians who grew up in Music City and love barbecue so much you could cut into us and check the smoke ring, all seem to agree on at least one thing: true Nashville BBQ is pulled pork.

For me that means pulled pork so full of smoky flavor it needs little more than a toss with a thin and juicy vinegar-and-pepper solution. My research suggests this is Eastern North Carolina style, but it's Nashville style to me.

My favorite way to eat it?

Well, the Redneck Taco, of course.

Redneck Tacos (pulled pork BBQ and coleslaw on corncakes) are the specialty of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint, my favorite Music City BBQ destination.

This is an old picture. Martin's no longer shares a building with the auto shop.

Ironically, I never order them when I go there because I am eternally hung up on splitting the incredible Big Momma Sampler with Hoosband (and I'm super-picky when it comes to coleslaw), but they were the inspiration for this tasty meal that's super fun to serve for family or friends.

Redneck Taco Pulled Pork
Okay. If you have the option of smoking your meat, that's a whole different ballgame. But for those of us who only dream of having smokers...or yards, for that matter...the slow cooker and a little smoked pork shank will do just fine.

1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia), thinly sliced
1 boneless pork butt roast
1/2 a smoked pork shank
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 T kosher salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 T granulated garlic
1/2 cup hot sauce (I used Lousiana)
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker in the order listed. Cover and cook on low setting for 15 hours, flipping the butt roast halfway through. Uncover and use a fork (or two forks, if desired) to pull apart/shred the pork and any large pieces of fat. Make sure to break up any large pieces of smoked pork shank (it will be darker in color) and distribute it evenly thoughout the mixture.

Serve now or transfer to a storage container and cool completely before covering and refigerating till ready to use. BBQ can be made as many as 5 days ahead and reheated in a 350-degree oven until warmed through.

Tangy Slaw
I'm really weird about creamy dressings, so this refreshing slaw is mayo-free!

1 T kosher salt
2 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 T dijon or stone-ground mustard
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 packages shredded cabbage or slaw mix (I like the kind with bits of red cabbage and carrot)
1/4 cup crispy diced bacon, optional

Pour vinegar over spices and mustard in a very large bowl. Whisk together. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, making an emulsion. Add the cabbage or slaw mix to the bowl, tossing to coat evenly. Stir in the bacon if using. Refrigerate for 1-3 hours before serving.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (not corn muffin mix)
2 T white sugar or brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 T honey
2 large eggs
dash hot sauce
3 T bacon fat or butter, melted, plus more for griddle

In a med-large bowl, thoroughly whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, thoroughly whisk together buttermilk, honey, eggs, and hot sauce.

Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and gently whisk just until there are no pockets of dry ingredients to be found, breaking up any large lumps, but not overmixing. Pour in butter or bacon fat, incorporate in just 1-2 stirs. Let mixture rest while the griddle preheats.

Heat the griddle to 375 degrees F or med-high heat, and brush with butter or bacon fat.

Pour the batter onto the griddle to form desired sized cakes. When bubbles pop up all over the corncake, it is ready to be flipped. Cook 3 minutes on the second side or just till golden and cooked through. Repeat with remaining batter.

Corncakes not to be eaten immediately can be placed on a cooling rack or in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool before being stacked in a large foil roasting pan, covered, and kept at room temperature for up to 6 hours before serving. Corncakes can be served room temperature or reheated in the foil roasting pan in a 350-degree-F oven till warmed through.

Serve Redneck Tacos with sliced pickled jalapenos, if desired.

Guest Feedback:
Average Score on a scale of 0-5, 0 being "Never again. Need to set my mouth on fire to extinguish the memory" and 5 being "Woohoo! When can I eat that again?" 4.6
Comments: "To die for." "Fantastic." "Yes please."

This recipe was featured in a post called Music City in the Midwest for's 24x24 event, for which 24 food bloggers from around the world are selected to host dinner parties within the same 24 hours and blog about them.

Thanks for Reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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