Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with a Lime Radish Slaw

This weekend was the Memphis in May World BBQ Championship in Memphis, TN. And if you’ve been following me…then you know I love a good BBQ! Can’t you imagine all of that WONDERFUL BBQ pork smoke swirling through the air?!?! Gah…what a fun weekend that would be! My friend, Chris Lilly, and the Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ team from Decatur, actually went home Grand Champion for a record 4th time in the Competition’s History! And I’m in total awe of this achievement. Much congrats, Big Bob Gibson’s…still making Alabama proud!!

So with all of the Facebook and Twitter posts I saw this weekend about Pulled Pork, Ribs and BBQ sauces…it was clear that I NEEDED to cook some pulled pork. But not your traditional BBQ pulled pork or sauce or sandwich. I wanted some tacos. Some smokey, sweet & spicy pulled pork tacos. With a crunchy slaw. And cheese, of course.

So….

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with Lime, Radish Slaw

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with Lime, Radish Slaw

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with a Lime Radish Slaw. Score! I love Chipotle Peppers. They are smoked & dried jalapenos. So you get the best of both worlds. A little heat…a little smoke. And I decided on radishes & honey because I went to the always fabulous Pepper Place Farmers Market on Saturday and they both seemed to be calling my name!! Here is what else you will need….

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with Lime, Radish Slaw

You Will Need at Least These Ingredients

I went to buy some pork and clearly everyone had the same idea I did this weekend, because there was no pork shoulder. So I used a boneless rib end pork roast (less fat than a shoulder). First thing you will need to do is season it well on both sides with salt & pepper. Then brown it on every single side (ends included) in a little oil & bacon fat. You just want to sear it for a about 4-5 minutes on each side (The ends will not take as long).

Sear the Pork on All Sides

Sear the Pork on All Sides

While this is searing, you want to get your onion, garlic & chipotle peppers chopped and then mix up your braising liquid.

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with Lime, Radish Slaw

Some of the Braising Ingredients

Once your pork is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan while you brown the onion & garlic in the oil. This should only take a couple of minutes. Once the onions are translucent, add your pork back to the pan. Then pour the braising mixture over the meet. Spoon the onions on top as well. Since this is a braise…the liquid should only be about 3/4 way up the side of the meat. Don’t let the liquid cover the meat!

Chipotle Honey Pork Tacos with Lime Radish Slaw

Ready for the Oven! Wow…that looks good already!

Now…just cover it and place in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours (based on 2 1/2 lbs) until fork tender for shredding. While that is cooking, mix up your slaw and let chill until ready to use. All you need is cabbage, radishes, honey, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, lime, salt & pepper. Very Simple.

Lime, Radish Slaw

Lime, Radish Slaw Ready to Chill

Once the pork is done cooking, let it rest out of the heat before shredding. About 10 minutes. Remove the pork from the pan and shred it using 2 forks. Then spoon in the braising liquid as little or as much as you like. Just make sure you use enough so that the pork is very moist and packed with the chipotle and onion flavors.

And now it’s time to assemble your tacos! I used flour tortillas and just toasted them over my gas stove for a couple of minutes on each side. You can certainly use corn tortillas as well. Whatever your preference. Spoon on your meat, then your slaw and finally the queso fresco cheese! You can also add cilantro and more lime juice. And then…..just DIG IN!

Chipotle Braised Pork Taco with a Lime, Radish Slaw

Swoon!

These tacos are so easy to make and PACKED full of flavor. One pot is all you need. Or if you want to use a slow cooker, that would work just fine, too. These tacos have the perfect balance of smokey, sweet & spice with all of the ingredients together. Kind of like me, I guess! I kid, I kid. 🙂

Let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with a Lime Radish Slaw

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Inspired by Chef Michael Symon & the Local Farmers Market

The Tacos:

2 1/2 lb Boneless Rib End Pork Roast (or 3-4 lb Bone-In Pork Shoulder)
1 tbsp Bacon Fat
1 1/2 tbsp Vegetable or Olive Oil
1 Spanish Onion, Chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
1 tbsp Cumin
1/2 tbsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 Lime, Juiced & Zested
1/4 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 c. Water (or more if needed for braise. Can also sub Chicken Stock)
1 can (7 oz) Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, Finely Chopped & Adobo included
2 1/2 tbsp Honey
Salt & Pepper
Lime & Radish Slaw (recipe below)
Queso Fresco Cheese, Crumbled
Cilantro for Garnish

Preheat Oven 300 Degrees. Salt & pepper pork roast well on all sides. Then brown in vegetable oil & bacon fat mixture. Make sure to brown all sides including the ends. About 4-5 minutes each. While pork is browning, mix together braising liquid ingredients (Lime Juice, Lime Zest, Honey, Onion Powder, Cumin, Coriander, Water, Chipotle Peppers, Adobo, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt & Pepper to taste). Once the pork is browned, remove from pan and set aside. Next saute the onions & garlic in the oil just until onions begin turning translucent. About 2-3 minutes. Add Pork back to the pot and pour braising liquid on top making sure to also spoon on some of the sauteed onions & garlic. Cover & bake for 2 1/2 hours or until pork is fork tender and easy to shred. Let rest off of the heat for 10-15 minutes. Then shred using two forks. Spoon braising liquid into the meat for the extra moisture and for the added flavors of the onion & chipotle peppers.

Assemble tacos topping with the queso fresco cheese, cilantro & extra lime juice if needed.

Lime & Radish Slaw

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 Bag of Shredded Cabbage
1/2 c. Thinly Sliced Radishes
1/4 c. Light Sour Cream
2 tbsp Honey
1/2 Lime Juiced & Zested
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Mix sour cream, honey, lime & apple cider vinegar. Fold in cabbage & radishes. Slaw should be lightly dressed. Mix in salt & pepper to taste.

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha, Honey Sauce

Fried Chicken. Not much more to say than those 2 words….

Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken with Grilled Potato Salad

Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken with Grilled Potato Salad

I’m just kidding (not really). Fried chicken is one of my all time favorite foods. Picnics, Family Reunions, Tailgates, Sunday lunches, Breakfast…. 🙂

I can remember years ago as a kid always devouring the fried chicken at our Lexington family reunions. And there was SOOOO much homemade food around that 2nd Sunday in May to make you feel like you gained 20 pounds in 2 hours! Aunt Ivene’s Green Beans, Vida Mae’s Fried Pies, Hilda’s Strawberry Delight… and on, and on, and on. My families very small contribution to that day??? Sweet tea, ice and fried chicken. Not homemade fried chicken…but a KFC fried chicken bucket. Yep…the “dirty bird”. And I loved it. Every last bite of it. And maybe a couple of last bites from someone else’s plate.

So 30 years later, when I visit new cities and new restaurants…if they have fried chicken on the menu…I’m still a total sucker to try it. Last year, one of my BF’s and I went to the South Beach Food & Wine Festival in Miami. Oh. Em. Gee. What a fun trip! And one of my favorite memories of that trip (and goodness there were so many)…My brunch at one of Miami’s best restaurants: Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar. Because of the fried chicken. Ah-Mazing. And now, oddly enough, one of the founders of that South Beach Food & Wine Festival, Lee Schrager, has a new book coming out on May 20, Fried & True, that is showcasing over 50 of America’s Best Recipes & Sides! That trip was clearly fate…..

Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar--Fried Chicken

Holy Fried Chicken, Y’all–Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar, Miami

But I digress. Although I can’t wait for that book to come out or to eat at Yardbird again…I’ll still have to say, my personal fried chicken recipes are always my favorites. It’s simply hard to beat the inspiration of some of your best childhood memories….So here we go.

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha Honey Dipping Sauce

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha Honey Dipping Sauce

To get started…the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you are planning this 1-2 days in advance, because you’ll need to brine the chicken for 24-26 hours in the sweet tea mixture. For the brine, you’ll simply make a normal gallon of sweet tea but with 2 tea bags instead of 1 (I always use Luzianne or Red Diamond), the juice of 1 large lemon, 1 c of sugar, 3/4 c of salt & 1/2 c pepper. Then submerge the chicken legs & thighs in the tea and refrigerate overnight.

After the chicken has been taken out of the brine and patted dry, drop it in the buttermilk and let it soak for at least 30 minutes to an hour. In the meantime, mix up your flour with the cayenne, onion powder, salt, garlic powder & paprika.

Flour Battered Chicken Legs

Thighs in the Buttermilk…Legs in the Flour

Now you’re ready to dredge the chicken. I like to do it in batches of the legs first then the thighs. But you don’t have to. It doesn’t actually do anything except make my OCD go away. Next, you’ll need to let the excess buttermilk drain off of each piece. Then coat it well in the flour mixture on all sides–also shaking off any excess. Let the pieces rest either on a wire rack or on parchment paper for at least 10 minutes. This will help the coating stick better while you fry it. While the chicken is resting…heat the oil to around 325 degrees in a cast iron or deep dish frying skillet. But in my opinion…a well-seasoned cast iron is the best way to ever fry chicken. Then fry the chicken in batches of similar size pieces (about 3-4 of them at most) so they will cook evenly on each side.

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce

Can’t you just hear that sizzle?

I usually cook the legs & thighs for about 10-12 minutes on each side turning 3-4 times to make sure all of the coating is golden brown and chicken is evenly cooked. And start your fry with the skin side down. The most important thing is to not OVER cook so the coating burns or UNDER cook so you get sick. 165 degrees as an internal temperature with a golden brown coating is the goal! Once you get the hang of it after a couple of times, you’ll be a frying chicken like an expert!

Finally, drain on a paper towel to absorb any extra oil then sprinkle with a little salt while it’s still hot!

Serve it with a side of my Grilled or Roasted Potato Salad (click the link in case you missed that favorite recipe), a side of Sriracha Honey and a mixed green salad then you are all set!

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce and a side of Grilled (or Roasted) Blue Cheese Potato Salad

I can’t wait to dig in to this deliciousness! Leave me a comment with your favorite recipes and memories..and of course…let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Sweet Tea Brine:

2 Tea Bags
1 c Sugar
3/4 c Salt
1 Large Lemon, Juiced
1/2 c Pepper

Boil 2 quarts of water. Once a rolling boil, add tea bags and remove from heat. Let steep off of the heat for about 10 minutes. Add in sugar, salt, lemon & juice, pepper. Stir until sugar & salt are dissolved. Mix in 2 more quarts of cold water to cool.

Fried Chicken

Sweet Tea Brine
3 1/2 lbs of Chicken Legs & Thighs, Skin On
1 Cup of Shortening + 1 Cup of Vegetable Oil (There should be at least 2 – 3 inches of oil in the skillet. But no more than 1/2 way up the side of the skillet)
1 quart Non-Fat Buttermilk
2 c AP Flour
1 tbsp Salt + More for Dusting
1/2 tbsp Pepper
1 tbsp Onion Powder
1 1/4 tbsp Cayenne
1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Paprika

1. Place Chicken in cooled, Sweet Tea Brine for 24 hours and no more than 26. Store in refrigerator.
2. Discard Brine & Pat Chicken Dry with Paper Towels.
3. Place Chicken in Buttermilk and Let Soak for 30 min up to 1 hour.
4. Mix Flour, Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Cayenne, Garlic Powder & Paprika while Chicken is in Buttermilk.
5. Remove Chicken from Buttermilk & Place Pieces in a Collandar so Excess Buttermilk Will Drain Off.
6. Dredge Chicken Pieces in Flour Mixture, Coating Well on All Sides. Shake Off Excess then Set Aside on Wire Wrack or Parchment Paper for 10 Minutes.
7. Heat Oil in Cast Iron Skillet to 325 Degrees.
8. Begin Frying Chicken in Batches, Starting Skin Side Down. No More than 3-4 Pieces at a Time.
9. Continue Frying Pieces, Turning Chicken 3-4 Times for Around 10-12 Minutes on Each Side until Golden Brown & Internal Temp Reads at least 165 degrees.
10. Place Cooked Chicken on Paper Towels to Drain any Excess Oil.
11. Dash with Salt while Chicken is Still Hot.
12. Drizzle with Sriracha Honey when Ready to Serve.

Sriracha Honey

2 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Sriracha
1 tsp of Water

Mix ingredients together for desired consistency and flavor. There is really no recipe for this…just what your tastebuds like! If you don’t like the thickness of the sauce, just mix in drops of water to loosen the sauce.