A few years ago, the boy and I were having beers with a mutual college friend of ours who is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. In college, he hailed from a teeny town, was a genuine hipster, wore fine cowboy boots while riding a fixie, smoked unfiltered cigarettes, found the popular indie bands before they were popular, drank an unhealthy amount of coffee, slept too little, had a huge heart for people and still does.
Some of these characteristics have carried over into working adulthood.
This friend also created a non-profit ogranization for high school kids in rural Texas schools called Pioneers Youth Leadership, where they teach teens leadership skills while focusing on improving rural communities. It’s growing like crazy and is a life-changing opportunity for hundreds of kids who are far removed from such opportunities otherwise.
While we were drinking our beer, we started talking about this non-profit and why he does what he does. He stared Kevin and me in the eye and asked point blank: What are you passionate about?
For Kevin, it was obviously web development. The guy is a mad genius in front of a monitor and keyboard, and he thrives off of learning and mastering the ever-changing world of technology. For this friend, it was helping these teenage kids reach their potential and truly find what they are passionate about. When it came time for me to answer, I shrugged my shoulders and muttered the job I had at the time, “human resources…?”.
No. Nonononono. HR was not my passion, it was a job. But I was surprised and struck by the fact that in that moment, I didn’t know where my passion lie. Where I felt most fired up, where I felt my creative juices could flow freely, where I felt sleep was irrelevant if I could do this. one. thing. The friend laughed, said that was fine, and we moved on.
A year and a half later, I know what my passion is – at least at this moment. It’s food blogging.
It may seem like a silly side hobby to some. Pretentious to others, after all, I’m absolutely no chef and feel like I’m swimming in the kiddie pool of culinary talent. But it kindles a warmth inside my gut that nothing else ever has. It enables a multitude of creative channels to spread their wings and fly. I get to sit down and write – actually write – whatever my heart desires, even if only mom reads it after I hit publish. I play with food and dream of it daily. I count Pinterest as part of my creative process. I have taken up photography of all things… a hobby I never thought I’d enjoy.
I love it. Even when I hate it I love it. Even when my viewership is down or I no longer have a back log of recipes, or I absolutely de-stroy a dish, or I feel like every word I write is a piece of complete and utter crap, food blogging is my happy place.
This rant about finding your true passion does indeed have to do with Taco Tuesday and these delicious tacos, believe it or not.
A few months ago, we catered a work event for about 200 people by a local barbecue joint. Lo and behold, it wasn’t a barbecue restaurant so much as it was two neighbors who live next door to each other and just really love to barbecue. Two white collar men who have graced their cul-de-sac with a monstrous smoker and make the most amazing pulled pork I’ve ever tasted in my life. One of them came by to look over the venue and shared with me that their HOA is pacified by the blatant code-violation with frequent gifts of their ohmygosh-so-good-bursting-with-all-the-flavors-pulled-pork.
What resonated with me most from working with this duo was not their aaaaaamazing barbecue. It was the passion they had in pursuing this little side hobby.
Two businessmen who live in a high-end suburb of Austin and have successful careers at their downtown Austin offices dream of quitting all of that one day and making a living off of their dreamy barbecue. I saw them work tirelessly alongside their lovely wives for our event, making sure every bit of their show was perfection, and it was. They were in their element and loved sharing the fruits of their labors.
They kindly made a goodie bag of pulled pork and cole slaw for me and the boy to take home, maybe because I was standing over them in the kitchen while they prepped, stalking and subtly begging for tastes. We made a good few meals out of their sweet gift, but the best one was a taco. A warm tortilla wrapped around a soft, succulent bed of pulled pork, drizzled with a sweet and tangy Carolina barbecue sauce, topped with a savory jalapeno slaw.
It. Was. Magnificent.
We may have licked the bowl clean to be sure we got the last of the meat.
This taco, dear friends, is our attempt at a recreation of the delicious meal they gifted us. Granted, we don’t have a trailer-sized smoker in our cul-de-sac, instead we have a slow cooker. Remember, barbecue is their passion, not necessarily ours.
Nonetheless, the pork came out of its day-long siesta succulent, juicy, and falling apart with the slightest touch. The slaw, while chunkier and not creamy in the slightest, is crunchy and packed with fresh, spicy flavor. We chose to dress it with whatever barbecue sauce we had on hand, which happened to be some that the barbecue guys left behind, muahahahaha!
This meal was easy, unique, and lasted days for us. You needn’t confine the pulled pork and slaw to a tortilla. Slap it in between a sliced bun. Scramble an egg with it. Stand over it at the kitchen counter and eat it cold for lunch (*raises hand to admit guilt).
Make it. Eat it. Savor it. Then find your passion.
Barbecue Pulled Pork Tacos with Crunchy Slaw
- Flour or corn tortillas
- Favorite barbecue sauce
For the pork
- 4-5 pound pork shoulder
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
- Salt and pepper
For the slaw
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1/3 cup virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Juice of 3 limes
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
- 2 jalapenos thinly sliced (de-seeded, if you're wary of heat)
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 1/2 purple onion
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
For the pork
- Sprinkle the raw pork with salt and pepper, then rub with barbecue sauce. Place in slow cooker. Pour in the broth.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the pork is fork-tender and shreds easily. Shred completely and set aside in in any remaining juices. Let cool a little.
For the slaw
- Combine all ingredients in a very large bowl and mix together well.
- Heat the tortillas in a microwave or in a cast iron skillet.
- Layer 1/3 cup of prepared pork in a tortilla, and drizzle with your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Top with your desired amount of slaw.