The plan had been in place for weeks, and we were looking forward to having a Saturday night dinner on the deck at the home of good friends. We'd even been given the menu, the better to whet our appetites in advance of the evening: cocktails and tomato-basil bruschetta to start, then grilled pork ribs, corn salad and the hostess's gramma's green beans. Boysenberry pie for dessert.
Yeah, we were drooling, too.
Saturday morning dawned warm and sunny, with the promise of a beautiful, not-too-warm Portland evening for the dinner. Then around mid-morning we got a call. A painting project had run over schedule, an unexpected memorial service had come up for that afternoon. Could we reschedule the deck dinner and go out instead? Maybe margaritas and Mexican at a place with outdoor seating?
Though there are several great places in town that fit that bill, I'd really been looking forward to spending time with our friends without the distractions and constraints of a restaurant meal. Why not just change locations and come over to our house? Dave's margaritas are as good, if not better, than any I've had out and, sticking with the Mexican theme, I could throw some pork on to braise for tacos and we could pot luck the condiments.
After hanging up I looked around, realizing the house was a complete shambles. Ack! Good thing we were eating outside…and we could clean up enough that, in the dim evening light, it might not look too awful.
Ready to go…take a seat!
On the way to the store I ran into my neighbor Susana, who waxed poetic about the dinner she'd made the night before featuring short ribs braised in apricots and cherries. We agreed it would be perfect for the pulled pork I needed for the tacos so, armed with her inspiration, I bought the necessary ingredients, came home, threw it all together and three hours later had the most luscious pulled pork ever.
And our dinner that evening? Perfection…just like we'd planned it all along.
Pork Tacos with Apricot, Cherry and White Wine Pulled Pork
For the pulled pork:
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1-2 medium yellow onions, chopped fine
3 large cloves garlic
2 c. cherries, pitted and halved (I used yellow Rainiers)
2 c. apricots, pitted and quartered
5 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into large chunks
2 1/2 c. dry white wine (I used a dry Pinot Grigio)
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
For the tacos:
Corn tortillas (order them in advance from Por Que No…awesome!)
Cabbage slaw with lime vinaigrette
Corn or cherry salsa
Cotilla cheese, crumbled
Assorted bottled chile sauces
Preheat oven to 325°.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onions and garlic and sauté till translucent. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and place pot in oven for 3 hours until pork is falling apart.
Remove pot from oven, and transfer the chunks of pork to a large platter, leaving cooking liquid in pot. Bring liquid in pot to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, and reduce until most of liquid has evaporated and it is a syrupy consistency. While liquid is reducing, smash pork with back of spoon or pull apart with a fork. When liquid in pot has finished reducing, add pork back to pot and combine.
Serve with condiments.
This pulled pork would be amazing with any recipe calling for pulled pork, and is infinitely variable with any seasonal fruit…think plums, peaches, apples, etc. You could also add whole chiles like ancho or poblano to give it some heat.