Tacos Tuxpeños, sometimes referred to as tacos de canasta (basket tacos) or tacos al vapor (steamed tacos), is a dish we had whenever mi mamá was feeling homesick. It reminded her of her childhood in Colima, enjoying these tacos during her lunch breaks at school con sus amigas. The taco Tuxpeño originated in the tiny pueblo of Tuxpan and became famous because the train from Colima would stop there and women would stand outside with baskets filled with tacos kept warm by their own steam, ready to feed hungry passengers. The taco consists of pork stewed in a guajillo-ancho broth until it shreds apart. I love the flavorful filling, but instead of warming these tacos in their own steam, I like to serve mine on a crispy fried tortilla.
Make the pork: In a large pot, combine the guajillos, anchos and at least 6 cups water, enough to completely submerge the chiles. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chiles have softened, about 15 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the chiles and transfer them to a blender. Add 2 cups of the chile cooking liquid to the blender (if you end up with less than that, add fresh water to make up the difference). Add the chicken stock, onion, garlic, thyme, cloves, cumin and salt. Blend (be sure to open the steam vent/center cap and cover with a towel to avoid explosive hot liquid) on high speed for about 45 seconds to make sure it’s fairly smooth.
Run the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve right into a 6-quart slow cooker, Dutch oven or pressure cooker. Use a spoon to push the liquid through as needed. Stir in the bay leaves and add the pork.
In a slow cooker: Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until the pork shreds easily. In a Dutch oven: Cover and cook over medium heat for 2 hours to 2 hours, 30 minutes. In a pressure cooker: Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes, then quick-release the pressure.
Taste the sauce and adjust the salt as needed. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork from the sauce and shred it with two forks, then return it to the sauce.
To assemble tacos: In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Grab a tortilla and dip it in the sauce in the pot with the pork, then fry it in the oil until lightly crisped, about 1½ minutes on each side. Repeat for the remaining tortillas, adding more frying oil as needed, to make 24 tacos.
To serve, add a spoonful of the pork in the sauce on top of the crispy tortilla and top with onion, cilantro, radishes and salsa. Serve with lime wedges.
Salsa de Molcajete
Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the tomatoes skin side up on the baking sheet and broil on the top rack until the skins blacken and blister, about 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a dry skillet, toast the chiles over medium heat for 1 minute, flip them, then toast for 1 more minute.
Add the garlic, toasted chiles and salt to a molcajete or large mortar. Use the piedra or pestle to grind everything together until a paste is formed. Add the blistered tomatoes, one at a time, and grind them into the paste. Add the lime juice, half of the diced onion and half of the chopped cilantro, then use a spoon to mix everything together; add more salt to taste. Top the salsa with the remaining diced onion and chopped cilantro to serve.
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