In Sweden, every friday, the nation indulges. There’s a fairly extensive history to it, but basically it means the country makes tacos for dinner, eats crisps and dip, and then drinks copiously for the first time in five days. It’s called Fredagsmys (Fredags = Friday’s, Mys = Cosy) and, without particularly meaning to, I’ve found myself shopping for taco stuff on a Friday afternoon. This is the point where I could make a ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ joke, but I won’t. I won’t.
Now, in the grand tradition of entirely inauthentic but somehow delicious food that has characterised almost all non-European cuisine in Europe, from Curries, to Chinese food, to Turkish kebabs, to supermarket hummus, to pizza the dubious majesty of a kilo each of spaghetti, drowned in what we call ‘Bolognese Sauce’ (only get an Italian engaged in conversation on this issue if you have no immediate plans), I shan’t even deign to call this recipe ‘Mexican’, it’s just nice food. There are big, complicated, sensitive conversations to be had about authenticity, influence and appropriation in food, but I shan’t have any of them here, I shall just tell you what we eat on a friday. It’s bloody delicious.
I also won’t call this ‘chilli’ or ‘pulled pork’ or anything, as everyone has a picture in their head of what those things should be. This braise is very simple, using no tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery, or any of that. It’s basically just fried onions, pork and spices, braised til falling apart, then mixed in with beans. Who could have a problem with that?
This looks like a long list of stuff, but half of it’ll be in any well stocked kitchen already.
You will need:
For the Pork:
- 700g Fatty Pork, diced or in the piece, ideally from the belly or shoulder. If there’s a bone or two in there, all the better.
- An Onion, thinly sliced
- 500ml Stock
- Paprika 1tbsp
- Ground Coriander 1tsp
- Ground Cumin 1tsp
- Chilli Powder ½tsp (I’m cooking for children, so I want this very mild. Use as much chilli as you like)
- Liquid Smoke ½tsp (optional)
- A Tin of Kidney Beans or any Other Beans You Like
For the Guacamole:
- A Ripe Avocado, cut into 1-2cm dice
- A Ripe Tomato, skinned, seeded and quite finely diced
- Half a Red Onion, very finely chopped
- A Red Chilli, very finely chopped
- A small bunch of Coriander, stems and all, finely chopped
- The Juice of a Half a Lime, or more to taste
- Ground Cumin 1tsp
- Plenty of Salt and Pepper
For the Taco Assembly:
- One Pack of Tacos, soft or hard
- Finely Shredded Lettuce, a crunchy variety such a iceberg, Romaine or Gem
- Finely Sliced Red Onion (use the spare half from your Guacamole)
- A Bowl of Cold Sour Cream, seasoned
- Grated Cheese, a type of your choosing, but probably nothing too fancy or flavourful
Well in advance, prepare the pork (you can always reheat it, so do this a day in advance if it’s easier to). First brown the meat in some oil in a hot high-sided pan or casserole. If you’re using a whole piece of meat, brown it a side at a time, turning only when you’ve achieved a crisp, golden texture. If you’re using diced meat, as I was, brown in small batches, never crowding the pan to the point where the pieces are touching.
Once the meat has browned, remove to a plate and turn the heat right down, adding a little more oil if the pan looks dry, and add your sliced onion. Move it all around in the pan a little to coat with oil, and then leave, giving the odd stir, for a minimum of 20 minutes, and a maximum of about 40. You’re aiming for a golden brown, jammy consistency, with a greater colour than required for a fine French consommé or whatever, but no blackness whatsoever (it’s important to get the onions well browned in this recipe, as that caramelisation is the source of much of the flavour). Add the dry spices, stir them in, and leave to fry for a minute or two, before returning the meat to the pan, and stirring it together to coat.
Pour in the stock til it’s level with the top of the meat and almost covering it, then turn up the heat and bring to a lively boil. Partially cover with a lid, turn the heat down very low and leave for an hour. After this time, remove the lid, and simmer away for another hour. You’re aiming for a fairly dry sauce and, after two hours’ braising, the meat should be falling apart. If you’re using a whole piece of meat, you may want to pull it apart with a pair of forks or spoons at this stage, but if you’re using diced pieces, a few stirs with a wooden spoon will probably be enough for them to pretty much fall apart.
Add your kidney (or other) beans, your liquid smoke if using, season to taste, warm through, and set aside, ready for taco-stuffing.
While the meat is braising, assemble your guacamole. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir with a fork, mashing a little as you go, but not so much that you get too smooth a consistency. You’re after a chunky sauce with the odd almost whole piece of avocado nestling within. Season to taste.
Heat your tacos according to the specifications of the packet, lay everything out in the middle of the table, then get stuffing, in any order you like, adding or omitting the elements as is your wont. Half the fun of this, it being a Friday, is to have it how you like it, with no eye on the consequences.
My usual practice is to eat until my stomach hurts, and then have one more, just to push myself into the realm of discomfort.