Delicious Healthy Pulled Pork

Taco Tuesday Whole30

Texans take their tacos seriously, especially those who grew up in the southern half of the state. We even have a tendency to put things like boudin or brisket in a tortilla. Breakfast tacos made with spicy venison sausage is a personal favorite of the Hargrove household. However, this past month my wife and I have been strictly adhering to the Whole30 program. I have done paleo, keto, low carb etc. in the past and have had success with them all but I truly am a Whole30 believer.  This is not going to be a manifesto extolling the virtues of eating cleanly with only natural ingredients and grass fed free range meat. I tell you this because these tacos are the real deal and are 100% Whole30 compliant. The Whole30 shopping list can put a major dent in the grocery budget, but being a hunter with a freezer of the world’s finest protein has undoubtedly helped in curtailing the cost of bushels of organic produce.

These tacos should please even the pickiest of critics. The pork has that classic taco flavor with a hint of sweetness due to the coconut aminos. The salsa is simple and fresh much like Pico de Gallo. Finally, don’t knock it till you try it, the jicama tortillas are the perfect crunch to wrap it all up in. There are plenty of mock tortilla recipes out there, cauliflower tortillas, coconut flower tortillas, etc. I have tried most of them and while I guess they are tortillas in that they are flat and bread like, they are a poor, poor substitute, and honestly taste like sadness. The jicama tortillas, which are only paper thin slices of raw jicama, really win out in my opinion. Disclosure, you will not mistake the jicama for an actual tortilla, rather it is a mild flavored wrap that offers a very nice crunch, doesn’t break and crumble like so many mock tortillas, and at about eight calories per serving you can eat them to your hearts content without any guilt. You can find them in the chilled produce section or make them from a large whole jicama by peeling and slicing it to the desired thickness with a deli slicer or mandolin.

For this recipe I used the rear quarter, or ham, from a small wild sow. you could use the shoulder as well, or a hearty sized roast from a larger pig. Whatever cut you choose especially if it is an entire quarter with the bone in, make sure to find and trim all the glands. I believe many people miss this step when cooking large bone-in primal cuts, not knowing any better, and unknowingly end up eating a sliver of one of these glands and think the meat is off or gamey. They are not hard to find, and once you know where to look and what they feel like it will be no problem removing them. There are countless YouTube tutorials that can help you find and remove these prior to cooking your pork. Wild pigs come in all shapes and sizes and the cook times in this recipe must be adjusted accordingly. A small young sow will get tender in the braising process much quicker than a large old boar. Low and slow is the game but you need to keep a watchful eye not to dry out the meat prior to adding the liquid as well as not getting impatient and cranking up the heat if it takes considerably longer to get fall apart tender.

In the search for Whole30 compliant taco seasoning blends we came up short. Each brand we found had sugar, corn masa, and wheat flour which are all on the forbidden list under Whole30. We used a recipe for the seasoning from http://therealfoodrds.com/homemade-taco-seasoning-whole30/  and it is spot on delicious. I would suggest quadrupling this recipe at the minimum so that you have plenty to use as a rub for the pork in this recipe and some left over for future taco nights.

Wild Pork Ham

Ingredients

Salsa

  • 4 medium to large tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 1 jalapeno 
  • fresh cilantro

Tacos

  • wild pork ham, shoulder, roast
  • taco seasoning
  • spicy brown mustard
  • 1/4-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • avocado oil
  • jicama tortillas

Wild pork rub

Method

low, slow, simple

After trimming the pork, pat dry with a sanitary rag or paper towel and apply the brown mustard to the entire surface of the meat, then apply the rub until it is completely covered. In a stoneware baker with a lid or other heavy covered oven safe pot, drizzle the avocado oil in the bottom and place the meat in the stoneware. Drizzle some oil over the meat and place in the oven at 250 degrees uncovered for about 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. This step is to help the rub and mustard form somewhat of a crust or rind similar to that of smoke brisket just without the smoke. Be extra careful not to dry out and overcook the meat in this step, if this is happening or you are worried it will happen you can simply skip this and go straight to braising. 

braised wild pork

After the initial roasting phase add the coconut aminos and the apple cider vinegar so that it comes about halfway up the side of the meat. Place the pork back in the oven, covered this time, until fall off the bone tender. As mentioned before, not all wild pigs are created equal. Depending on the animal this could be about two hours (which this particular one was) or much longer. Be patient, it will get there, as soon as your think it will never get tender it will. 

While you are braising the meat, cube the onion and place it with the four whole tomatoes and peppers into boiling water. Boil the vegetables until the skin of the tomatoes begins to peel away. Drain all the boiled veggies and blend together, add the stemmed fresh cilantro and pulse the blender once more. To control the heat only add one pepper at a time and taste test as you go. Once the meat has reached the proper tenderness pull from the heat and shred with forks. leave the meat in its own juices for full moistness and robust flavor. Serve on jicama tortillas with a slice of avocado, stemmed cilantro, and the freshly made salsa.

These tacos are decadent without the guilt. Seasoned and spiced enough for a heat lover but mild enough for a toddler. Seriously, my two year old daughter ate her weight in these. The pork would also make an excellent addition left over with some eggs in a breakfast taco. Enjoy!

 

pulled pork tacos

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