Smoked Pork Taquitos

BBQ works in mysterious ways. The more I learn about smoking meats, the more I can rationalize and envision unique ways of incorporating it into traditional cuisine.  Take a pork shoulder for example, any BBQ guru would make tender pulled pork out of it or add the shredded meat to bowl of smoky baked beans for an instant crowd pleaser. On the other hand, pork shoulder is a typical ingredient for a lot of traditional Mexican dishes that my family cooked.

Since pork is used often in Mexican cuisine, I took what I learned from my parents and my passion for BBQ to make it my own style of cooking…Latin flavor over a smoky bed of charcoal. In fact, my smoked pork tamales were a direct result of this rationale. Perhaps, I can use my expanding experience to make another childhood favorite into a Major League Grilling project…I want taquitos.

Taquitos are one of those types of food that I can eat everyday, as long as I have a vat of guacamole near by…I’m set. Furthermore, other meats such as chicken and beef can be substituted for the pork. I’ve even made taquitos stuffed with cheese. And just so you know, a taquito is a corn tortilla wrapped around shredded meat and deep fried until crisp and chewy.

Smoked pork shoulder
My meat preference is obviously pork, and the tenderest pork is in the shoulder…that is what I’m going to use here. To further enhance the pork shoulder, I’m applying a Mexican spice rub and a Latin infused liquid injection.

Chile Injection

  • 12 Dried Peppers (8 Pasilla’s, 4 Ancho)
  • ½ Medium Onion
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • ½ tsp Oregano
  • ½ cup Bitter Orange Juice
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Chicken bouillon cube
  • Salt & Pepper

Preparation

  1. Roast the chilies on the grill, do not burn them
  2. Soak the chilies for 2 hours in a large container
  3. Reserve 1 ½ cups of water the chilies were soaking in.
  4. Deseed all the chilies and place them in a blender
  5. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  6. Add reserved water (more if needed).
  7. Blend until smooth
  8. Reserve 2 cups of marinade.

Place the pork in a deep foil pan. Then use a meat syringe to start injecting the shoulder with the liquid marinade. Afterwards, cover the pan with a sheet of foil and keep it in the fridge over night or go on to the next step, making the rub.

Mexican rub

  • Coarse Black Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Ground Oregano
  • Minced Dried Onion
  • Minced garlic

Preparation

  1. Mix equal parts of the ingredients together except the garlic.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the smoker for 225 degrees.
  2. Take pork shoulder out of the fridge and uncover. Drain any liquid out of the pan.
  3. Rub the minced garlic all over the shoulder and in the folds of the meat.
  4. Mix all rub ingredients together and spread it evenly all over the shoulder. Make sure to get those folds and creases in between.
  5. Place the pork butt on the smoker. I used pecan wood for smoke and I placed a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the shoulder.
  6. Cook until it reaches 195 degrees internal temperature.
  7. Remove pork from the smoker and let it rest at room temperature for about an hour or until it’s cool to shred.

After being subjected to 13 anxious hours, the shoulder reached 197 degrees. This was the first time that I cooked overnight and to be honest it was exhilarating for me. I managed a few hours of sleep but obstacles such as the freezing temperatures outside and the wind keep me on my toes and awake. It was a battle between me and the elements and I won.

When the pork cooled, I used my meatrakes to pull it apart. Next, I poured the reserved marinade into the pan full of pork shards and mixed well for even more flavor. Of course, there is a heavy dose of quality control going on at this point. With over 3lbs of meat in front of me, I felt I could have ate it all…but resisted to do so.

The key for making taquitos is having the right tortillas. Pick up thick yellow corn tortillas, they have a sweet flavor and a hard rough texture that contrasts the supple pork. Make sure to warm the tortillas first, I like to repeatedly flip them over the stove and stack them in my tortilla warmer before frying. This way the tortilla is flexible when I try to roll it, if it breaks…the tortilla is not warm enough.

Frying Taquitos

  • Start with a spoonful of pork to one side of the warm tortilla and roll it up tight.
  • Stick a couple of toothpicks in the taquito to hold together and fry them in canola oil on medium to medium-high heat or 375 degrees.
  • In my deep fry cooker, I cooked 4 at a time for 4 minutes.
  • Remove the taquitos onto a plate covered with paper towels to soak up the oil, discard toothpicks when cooled.
  • I only needed about 1 pound of smoked pork to make 15 taquitos, the rest was frozen.

On New Years Eve, these tortilla tubers satisfied my craving. Even better, I had enough smoky shredded pork to make tamales that turned out excellent. Both are a great way to change it up from good ol’ traditional BBQ.

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