St. Valentine might have loved tacos.


Photography by Matt Hocking

According to Wikipedia, Pope Gelasius I* established the feast of St. Valentine on February 14 in the year 496. He listed St. Valentine amongst those saints “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” In other words, they didn’t know a thing about him.

It would take until the 1300’s for St Valentine’s feast day to be widely associated with romantic love, and by the 1840’s the Victorian fervor for giving flowers and gifts had firmly set hold. According to the History Channel, around this time Richard Cadbury invented a new way of processing cocoa that resulted in excess cocoa butter which meant he now had a lot of chocolate candy to sell. It is thought that he developed the first heart-shaped chocolate box as a way to market his candy for Valentine’s Day sales.

I, however, in an effort to moderate the putting on of winter weight, won’t be eating any chocolate this year, heart shaped or otherwise. What then to enjoy this Valentine’s Day? Well, my husband, Jason, asked for tacos, and I figure, since we know nothing about St. Valentine anyway, we may as well celebrate him with a feast of tacos as anything else. I hope Pope Gelasius I would approve.

*There was more than one Pope Gelasius? Really?

Blood Orange Pork Carnitas Tacos

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 lb boneless  pork shoulder
  • 4 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 blood oranges zested and juiced
  • 2 tbs toasted, ground cumin
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbs epazote or dried oregano
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 cup crema or 3/4 cup crème fraîche thinned with 3-4 tbs cream
  • 18-20 Corn tortillas
  • 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions:

  • Cut pork into 2″ chunks, separating any large pieces of fat. Season meat with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add pork fat and cook 5-7 minutes to render. Remove any remaining solid pieces.
  • Add 2 tbs vegetable oil and brown pork in batches, adding additional oil if needed. Reserve meat.
  • If needed add an additional tbs oil to pan. Add onions and sauté to soften and lightly brown on edges, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add orange juice and all but 1 tsp zest to Dutch oven along with cumin, cinnamon, bay leaves and oregano. Return pork to pan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook pork 2 1/2 -3 hours until very tender. Remove pork from pan and shred pork.
  • Return pan to heat and reduce braising liquid to a syrup, about 1 cup.
  • Place shredded pork on a rimmed baking sheet and place 8″ under broiler. Broil until edges begin to get crispy. Drizzle sauce over pork and toss to coat. Return pan to broiler and broil again until edges of meat crisp up and begin to brown, another 4-5 minutes.
  • Stir together crema with reserved orange zest.
  • Eat carnitas wrapped in corn tortillas with fresh cilantro and drizzled with blood orange crema.

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