It seems fitting that I should roast a pork on Father’s Day. Firstly, because pork brings back “Thoughts of Dad”. Secondly, because pork is manly and can be roasted on a grill. Ironically, I found out recently that my Dad doesn’t like smoked meats. In fact, he doesn’t like smoked food. Yet, I am pretty sure, as I was growing up, we ate bacon once a week (!), and in last year’s visit, (the one where I became aware of his disdain for smoked food), he exclaimed his love of smoked pork chops. Perhaps he doesn’t think these are actually flavored of smoke? In any case, I started writing this last year on Father’s Day and for Dad, I was making pork (even though he was back home in Mexico), and for Tom, the father of our adorable furry kids, I roasted said pork, in smoke!
I could smell it as I typed, wafting smoky loveliness throughout our yard and down our street. Sadly, I didn’t write down what I did so when we finally get the replacement part for our wood pellet grill, I will explore a re-creation. Until then, it was one year and two months later that I found myself in Arizona, visiting Dad (and Linda). It was Father’s Day (again) and I planned on roasting a pork.
Instead, I let someone roast it for us, overnight in applewood smoke, until it fell apart and filled with just the most perfect essence of smoke.
This tender pork I stuffed into charred poblanos along with charro beans, sautéed onions, tomatillo salsa, cumin and coriander. It was then topped with mozzarella and cojita cheeses before going into the oven for 30 minutes at 375-degrees. It came out melty, smoky and delicious.
But I’m not here to tell you about that, I am here to tell you about this – a taco bar. In addition to the poblanos, the pork was set out on a platter with other taco fixings. We were having a few guests over; and since it was crazy hot out and a few guests could mean two – but could also mean 10, I decided to keep it simple while keeping the kitchen coolish (it was 111 degrees outside). Since we were in Arizona, a taco bar sounded like a good idea. Okay, to me, a taco bar always sounds like a good idea.
But not as good as a pool!
Serving suggestion: Think about using colorful dishes with food set out on large platters surrounded by smaller bowls of salsas and garnish. Chips and guacamole are perfect to nibble while sipping on cool mango margaritas before dinner. Festive music should include the likes of Tito Paris, the Champs or Jenny and the Mexicats.
...start by making margaritas! It is summer here in our piece of the world and better yet, it is the ideal time for nectarines in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, in Yakima, Washington. I don’t have mangos (and am not in Mexico, Hawaii, nor Arizona for that matter) but I do have a large quantity of nectarines. Picked fresh from the Yakima Valley and purchased yesterday at Hunter Farms, so I’m thinking nectarine margaritas!
The margaritas I made were from these outrageously delicious, tender, sweet with a-bit-of twang perfection. If you use other nectarines, purchased from a grocer without access to really good nectarines, I will first off, feel sorry for you and secondly, feel grateful that I didn’t. No worries though, I am here to help you through by letting you know, your margarita will still be stellar. Perhaps a little more Grand Marnier will do the trick? Peaches, mangos or apricots could be used in place of the nectarine. Just remember that it is adding most of the sweetness to the drink since we aren’t adding sugar (or even simple syrup).
In a blender or food processor (such as a Vitamix), add the juice of 2 limes and 1 lemon (which should equal a total of 6 TB), 1 large nectarine (minus 4 slices for garnish; pit removed, skin on), 6 oz tequila (your favorite kind or the best you can afford), 2 oz Grand Marnier, and a big handful of ice. Puree until smooth and serve in salt-rimmed glasses, garnished with a slice of nectarine and a sprig of herb (basil, mint, thyme…).
The fixin’s (for a taco bar):
Chunked Watermelon – lime juice, Serrano pepper & mint (literally that – dice some watermelon and mix with chopped Serrano chili, chopped mint and a little sea salt; very refreshing)
Pork butt – slow cooked, tender and smoky
Swordfish – cumin, coriander & heat
Sautéed Red Pepper and Onion
Pico de gallo
Mango salsa (see my version here)
Chipotle lime crème (just add chipotle chile powder or a small amount of the sauce from a can of chipotle chilis, and lime juice to CRÈME fraîche or sour cream).
By the way, if anyone is wondering why the hell I am writing about Father’s Day in August (when it happens to be in, uh, June), I believe you might want to reread this post.