Saturday, May 7, 2016

65. Pork Loin and Apple Tacos with Fresh Greens and Smoked Provolone

Pork Loin and Apple Tacos with Fresh Greens and Smoked Provolone Collage

I'm finally ready to post another taco recipe.  It's been a while, but better late than never, right?  I've gotten a little behind.  My actual job (which I happen to love but which is not writing recipes and blogging) has demanded all of my attention over the past couple of weeks.  The Taco Project has had to take a back seat (for now).  Summer vacation is exactly one week away, though, so I'll be able make up some ground soon!  I'm still planning on posting my 100th original taco recipe on August 2nd, 2016!  :)

I've been wanting to do something with pork and apples for a while now.  You can't go wrong with that combination!  I picked up a pork loin roast at the store and decided to try another braised-in-the-oven concoction.  Braising is my favorite way to cook a lot of different cuts of meat, including short ribs, lamb shanks, and pork shoulder.  It also works for pork loin!

I could have used only half of the pork (which would have been more than enough for a few people), but I just . . . didn't.  I cooked it all.  If you make this recipe as written, it will serve a small crowd.  From start to finish, it takes some time, but it's not very labor intensive.  It would be a great make-ahead dish for a party!

This is the second time I've used pork loin in a taco.  My first attempt resulted in a delicious pork and green chile taco!  I had been a little skeptical about using pork loin in the past (as I'd always found it rather dry), but I have since learned that slow cooking and a delicious sauce will help the situation immensely! 

I decided to make the rest of the recipe fairly simple - a bed of fresh greens, a sprinkle of flavorful cheese, and a little bit of cilantro!  :)

Here's the recipe:

Pork Loin and Apple Tacos with Fresh Greens and Smoked Provolone

Serves . . . 6 to 8?  (It makes quite a bit!)


One 4 lb. piece of boneless pork loin, cut into four large pieces and seasoned generously on all sides with salt and pepper

Pork Loin for Tacos

3 tbsp. olive oil
4 shallots, chopped (about 1 and 1/3 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 large apples (I used Honeycrisp), peeled and grated
1 bay leaf
1 large sprig rosemary
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cider vinegar

Ingredients for Pork Loin and Apple Tacos
There's no IPA in this recipe.  I was drinking IPA when I made this.  It showed up in the picture.  Ha ha.
16 to 32 corn tortillas, depending on their size and whether you plan to double them up (I would recommend doubling them up for this recipe, unless they are very thick.)

One clam-shell package of fresh greens of your choice (I would recommend sturdy and flavorful varieties!)

Fresh Greens for Pork Loin and Apple Tacos

4 to 8 oz. (or more) grated smoked provolone cheese, depending on how much cheese you like!

Smoked Provolone Cheese for Pork Loin and Apple Tacos

Cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)


1.  Start the pork:  Preheat the oven to 290 degrees.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy, oven-safe pot, such as a Dutch oven.  Add the pork (in batches, if needed) and brown on all sides. about 10 to 15 minutes total.

Pork Loin Browning for Tacos

Place the browned pork on a plate and set aside.

Browned Pork Loin for Tacos with Fresh Greens and Smoked Provolone

2.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Add the shallots, garlic, carrot, celery, apples, bay leaf, and rosemary to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is soft and somewhat browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Shallot, Carrot, Celery, Apple, Rosemary, and Bay Leaf for Pork Loin and Apple Tacos

Add the chicken stock, wine, and salt and bring to a simmer.  Add the pork, cover, and place in the oven.

Pork Loin in Apple Sauce for Tacos

3.  Keep an eye on the pork:  Turn it every 30 minutes or so and check on the tenderness.  The pork should cook for at least two hours, but you can let it go longer if desired.  Mine seemed tough after an hour, but was more tender around the two hour mark.  I think if I had let it go longer, it might have tenderized further.

4.  When the pork is done, remove the pan from the oven.  Place the pork on a plate, cover it, and let it rest for about 15 minutes or so.  Add the vinegar to the sauce left in the pan.  Remove the bay leaf and the rosemary stem.  With a hand blender, blend the sauce until it is fairly smooth.  The consistency is up to you - I don't mind a little bit of texture!

5.  Shred/slice the pork:  Use two forks (or a knife and fork) and pull or slice the pork into small to medium pieces.  Mine looked like this:

Pulled Pork Loin for Tacos

Return to the pork to the pan with the sauce, place on the stove over low heat, and allow the mixture to heat through.

Pulled Pork Loin in Apple Sauce for Tacos

6.  While the pork mixture is heating, prepare the tortillas to your liking.  When I am making tacos with soft corn tortillas, I heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  I place a large sheet of aluminum foil near the pan.  I heat each tortilla in the skillet for about a minute or so on each side, or until it softens and begins to brown.

Corn Tortillas Warming in a Cast Iron Skillet

After each one is done, I place it on the foil and immediately start the next one.  I stack them on top of one another as I work.  When I'm done with the whole batch, I wrap them completely in the foil and place them in a 250 degree oven until I'm ready to assemble the tacos.  I didn't bother placing them in the oven this time, as this was basically my last step!

7.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  If you have thin corn tortillas, as I did, use two for each taco.  (As there in some sauce in the filling, I would definitely recommend two tortillas.)  Place a small bed of the greens on the tortilla(s).  Using a slotted spoon to avoid excess liquid, spoon some pork down the center.  Sprinkle with the cheese.  Garnish with cilantro (if desired) and enjoy!

Pork Loin and Apple Tacos with Fresh Greens and Smoked Provolone

The verdict?  Well . . . we thought these were pretty great!  :)  The sauce has a lot of flavor and was nice and tangy, but the apple isn't obvious.  When I told my husband I was making pork and apple tacos, he actually made a face because he thought they would be sweet!  Ha ha.  That's not really what I was going for.  I wanted something savory, but with bright and slightly fruity flavors - these fit the bill perfectly!  

The smoked cheese was perfect!  If you can't find it, another type of cheese would work just fine, but I would highly recommend the smoked provolone.  The rich umami flavor that it added was an interesting contrast to the bright flavor of the sauce.

Pork Loin and Apple Tacos with Fresh Greens and Smoked Provolone (2)

I wasn't sure if the cilantro would work with the rosemary-roast pork thing I had going on, but it ended up being the perfect garnish.  It provided yet another layer of flavor and a little extra kick of freshness!  Of course, I think cilantro is good on just about everything, so I'm biased!

Pork Loin and Apple Tacos with Fresh Greens and Smoked Provolone (3)

This made A LOT, but it was delicious, so we didn't mind too much!  The next day, we ate some of the leftover pork with rice and vegetables.  With this 100 taco thing going on, I pretty much turn EVERYTHING into a taco these days, but this pork would be good in many presentations - over rice, with potatoes . . . it's just good!

Well, since I'm behind, I'm just going to leave it there.  I need to think of another taco recipe to make tonight . . . :)  On to the next one!

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  What should I make next?

Thanks for reading!


  1. I love tacos and thanks for sharing the recipe. Can't wait to try this out!

    1. Thanks, Ana! I appreciate you visiting my blog! Let me know if you try them - I'd love to hear how they turn out! :)


I'd love to hear what you think! Please comment! :)