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Make David Blonsky's Smoked Pork Cheek Tacos From Mercadito

By Amy Cavanaugh in Food on Feb 5, 2012 8:00PM

2012_02_05_mercadito.png Each month Mercadito offers Tacos for Strength, a tasty promotion that features a special taco created by a guest chef. This month's taco is from David Blonsky, chef at Public House and Bull & Bear. His Smoked Pork Cheek Tacos are available at Mercadito locations in Chicago, New York, and Miami through February 29. Mercadito donates a percentage of the proceeds to Share Our Strength, which fights childhood hunger. We previously featured Michael Kornick's chicken and cactus taco recipe.

Try the tacos for lunch (three for $12.50) or dinner (four for $16.50), or make them at home with Blonsky’s recipe below.

Recipe for Smoked Pork Cheek Tacos with Salsa Verde Pistou

5 pounds pork cheeks, cleaned
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Spanish onions, peeled and roughly chopped
6 stalks celery, rough chopped
5 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves, fresh
1 sprig rosemary
¼ bunch parsley
3 tbs. smoked paprika, dolce
½ cup mezcal
2 quarts pork demi-glace, made in house
Hickory wood
Apple wood
Espelette pepper to garnish
Salsa verde pistou

1. Smoke pork cheeks at 200 degrees with 3 parts hickory to 1 part apple wood. Allow to cool.
2. Heat a large sauté pot with oil, sear the pork cheeks, remove and set aside. In the same pot, caramelize the onions, carrots and celery. Add pork cheeks and deglaze with mezcal, add in herbs, season with salt and pepper and cover with pork demi-glace. Cover pot with aluminum foil and place in 350 degree oven for 3 hours, or until pork cheeks are fork tender.
3. Remove pork cheeks and then strain the sauce. Place pork cheeks back in sauce and cool down together.
4. Slice pork cheeks and griddle to add a nice crust, place back in braising liquid and keep warm.

Salsa Verde Pistou

½ cup bread crumbs
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 cup chopped parsley
½ cup olive oil
1 tbs. capers
1 tbs. pine nuts
10 pitted olives
2 anchovies
1 cloves of garlic
1 hard boiled egg yolk

1. Stir together breadcrumb and vinegar in a bowl.
2. In food processor, mix parsley, oil, capers, pine nuts, olives, anchovies, garlic and egg yolk until smooth.
3. Stir mixture into breadcrumb and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

To Assemble:
1. Place meat in tortillas, spoon some of the braising liquid on top then add salsa verde pistou.
2. Garnish with crispy shallots, queso fresco and sprinkle the espelette pepper on top.