When I was 20, my Mexican friend Vincente took me to Mexico City for tacos al pastor. We walked up to this super-busy stall that had spits of marinated, sliced, and stacked pork rotating near a fire—almost like the meat for gyros. Pineapples rotated near the fire right next to the pork. The tacos are called al pastor because missionaries came from Jerusalem to Mexico and brought their Middle Eastern foodways with them. Over time, tacos al pastor became one of the most popular Mexican tacos. Go figure. Anyway, here’s my veiled attempt to nail down the spicy-sweet savory flavors. The texture is nearly impossible to get right without 200 pounds of sliced pork rotating on a spit. Instead, I use trim and scraps of pork shoulder, cut them small, and then sear the pork in a smoking-hot pan. Garnish the meat with spicy salsa and some chopped onion and cilantro, and it makes a damn fine taco.
Fatback Fried Corn Feeds 4 Most Americans call this creamed corn. In the South, it’s called fried corn, which is a better term because there’s barely any cream in it. The creaminess comes from the corn itself, not the cream. I ate this dish every summer. My granny cut fresh corn from the cob with
I struggled with whether to include this dish because it’s so cliché. But it’s so good! It’s a pork tenderloin marinated in homemade teriyaki (soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, and garlic), and then grilled on skewers with pineapple and mushrooms. It’s ultra-simple backyard barbecue food, but there are a couple keys to success. First, cut the meat into same-size pieces for even cooking. I like cubes about ¾ inch square. Second, skewer the food in the order listed and push it tightly together. You want a solid strip of food on each skewer to prevent overcooking and so that the pineapple is near the meat. That way, the pineapple bastes the pork, helps it brown, and keeps it juicy.
The Heirloom Book Company in Charleston, South Carolina, sells rare antiquarian cookbooks like first editions of Escoffier. I was there flipping through a book on royal court cuisine for lords and barons, reading recipes for the most extravagant dishes you can imagine. One of these was a bone-in Frenched whole pork loin stuffed with apples, dates, and duck liver. That sounded pretty awesome to me. I adapted the idea here but replaced the duck liver with bacon fat and threw in a few more dried fruits. If you have duck liver, by all means use it, but it’s not a requisite. Serve this roast with your favorite mead, honey cakes, and frosted lemons. It’s perfect for Christmas, Easter, or any other royal feast.
Banoffee Trifle is a layered dessert of vanilla custard, Candied Bacon, crushed shortbread cookies, fried bananas, toffee caramel, and chocolate ganache. You can totally make this at home. The layering makes it look awesome in a glass dish. Serve it with coffee and your friends will think you’re badass.