The richness of this slowly braised pork shoulder emulates the succulent, mellow flavors of the roasted suckling pig Jeremiah Tower prepared in his Mexico feast. If you can’t find fresh sour oranges or bottled sour orange juice, combine equal amounts of fresh orange and grapefruit juice.
Braised Pork Shoulder with Sour Orange & Achiote
For the fermented lime sauce
- 1-1/2 cups fresh lime juice (from about 10 medium limes)
- 1/2 habanero pepper; more to taste
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
For the pork
- 1/2 cup bitter or sour orange juice, fresh or bottled
- 1/4 cup achiote paste
- 3 Tbs. minced garlic
- 2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 lb. bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder
- 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
- Banana leaf or parchment cut large enough to cover the pork
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pickled red onions
- 16 to 24 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
Make the fermented lime sauce
- Combine the lime juice, habanero, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Let sit at room temperature covered with cheesecloth for 3 to 5 days. Just before serving, remove and discard the habanero, and add the onion and cilantro. Season to taste with more salt.
Make the pork
- In a blender, combine the juice, achiote, garlic, oregano, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Pulse several times, then purée, scraping down the canister as necessary, until a smooth, thick paste forms.
- Score the pork skin in a crosshatch pattern at 11/2- to 2-inch intervals. Put the pork in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot. Rub all of the orange-achiote paste over the entire piece of pork, including into the cross-hatched skin. Position the pork skin side up in the pot. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the pork from the refrigerator, and allow to come to room temperature. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 300°F. Pour the chicken stock over the pork, and drape the banana leaf over the pork, tucking the edges loosely around the meat. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Roast until the pork is very tender and begins to fall away from the bone, flipping it halfway through, about 3 hours total.
- Uncover the pork and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until the fat congeals, 4 hours or up to overnight. Remove the pork from the cooking liquid, discard the bone, and shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Pull some of the fat from the skin, finely chop, and transfer to a medium saucepan. Remove the congealed fat layer from the cooking liquid, and add to the pan. Set the Dutch oven aside. Gently warm the fat mixture over medium heat until it mostly melts. Add the shredded pork, stirring frequently until just heated through.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining cooking liquid in the Dutch oven over medium-low heat until just heated through. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the pickled onions, if using.
- Serve the shredded pork in the tortillas with the fermented lime sauce and the warm marinade.