### Pork Shoulder with Chile and Onions
This is my attempt to re-create my most favorite _al pastor_ in Oakland -- the stuff they make at Tacos Sinaloa in Fruitvale. Saucy, packed with sauteed onions -- it's amazing stuff. This isn't a match, but it's damn fine, and close. I like it with roasted tomatillo salsa and crema and a _Dos Equis_ amber.
* Some number of pounds of pork shoulder. Get the good stuff; the pork will taste of its fat, and cheap pork fat tastes gross. A pound of pork shoulder makes dinner for 3-4 people, depending on just how many tacos each of you can put down.
Per pound of pork:
* 1 medium onions (can do two large onions per three pounds pork). I like yellows, but I've done sweet onions and it's rad.
* A pile of chiles.
Let's pause here for a second, 'cause there are a _lot_ of great chiles you could use. I think this is best with dried red chiles, and ambrosial if those chiles were smoked. That means chipotles, anchos, or Oaxacenos. It's difficult to give quantities on these things. It comes down to taste, hey? If you don't cook with these things often, or don't like spicy foods, use Oaxacenos -- one or even a half of one per pound. If you like it hot, keep adding chipotles until your head explodes. I like spicy pork; I typically use two chiplotles per pound, depending on chili size. If you aren't big on smoked chiles, look at a dried New Mexico red, or use fresh-ground _chiles pequenos_.
* 1 cloves garlic, peeled
1. Set the oven to 350 degrees. Put a Dutch Oven on the range and apply medium heat.
2. Chop up your pile of onions. Mince up the garlic. Heck -- get a beer. This is good beer-drinking-cooking. And the chiles! Chop them up too. That'll get you going.*
3. Oh yeah -- cut your pork shoulder into hunks of roughly equal size. I try to keep the hunks as big as possible. Coat it all over with salt.
So. Here's the basic idea: we're going to roast a pork shoulder. We don't want it to get dried out; we also don't want to add liquid to it. The moisture will come from the onions, which we also want to caramelize. What we're going to do is this: start with a base of cooked onions; start roasting the pork shoulder; add onions to keep it moist, but not too many or too fast so that they can get dry enough to caramelize. You can work the lid, here -- add it if things are drying out too quickly, remove if things are staying too wet.
4. Add a tablespoon or so of the oil of your choice to the Dutch Oven (I use bacon fat). Once it's hot, toss in 1/2-1/3 of your chopped onion. Cook the onion until it turns translucent; add about half the chopped chiles and garlic, stir well, then add the pork shoulder. Start them fat-side down, and try to get the fat in contact with the dutch oven.
5. Pop the whole works in the oven, uncovered (to start). Grab your beer, and maybe a book. Time to do some structured waiting.
6. Every thirty minutes or so, check the pork shoulder. Check the stuff in the bottom of the pan; as it starts to dry out, throw in more onions and stir it all around. You can flip the hunks over after a while -- use tongs.
7. The pork shoulder is done when it is tender but not soft. You should be able to separate the hunks with a pair of forks, but you should not be able to cut it with a fork. Honestly, I like mine a touch on the chewy side -- well roasted and cooked through but not actually falling apart. (Try this: slice off a little hunk of pork. Is it delicious? Just a little chew? It's done! If it's tough, keep going.) For a three pound pork shoulder in my oven, this takes about two hours.
8. When the pork shoulder is done, pull the hunks out of the pot with tongs, transferring them to a cutting board. Transfer the Dutch Oven back to the range and set medium heat.
9. Chop the pork hunks into bits.
10. Toss whatever onion and chile and garlic you have left into the Dutch Oven to cook in the rendered fat and onion goop. If things are stuck or cooked to the pan, pour in a bit of your beer to loosen it. Do you like flavors other than what's already there? Oregano or cumin? This is where I'd add those, m'self, but I don't usually want 'em.
11. Once the onion in the pot is tender, toss the pork back in and stir liberally.
Hey, you're done! It's ready to go in tacos! I love this as a simple taco: hot corn tortillas, this stuff, roasted tomatillo salsa, a little crema, but it would win your heart with seared corn and epazote and maybe some cotija. You should eat as you like!
* Have you handled very hot peppers before? No? Okay, listen, this is really important: hot chiles will get oil on your fingers, and it will burn any sensitive body parts you touch. That oil is very difficult to scrub off, so just washing your hands isn't enough. Dried chiles are much safer to work than fresh or freshly roasted chiles, but you can still have an awfully rough evening of pouring salene solution in your eyes if you aren't careful. When in doubt: nitrile gloves.