Smoky Watermelon and Carnitas Tacos
Chef Jay Smith
Chef Jay Smith of Bloomin’ Brands created a smoky spice rub that does double duty—it flavors both the watermelon and pork that fill these tacos. He pairs the colorful compressed watermelon and slow-cooked carnitas with spinach, salsa verde, queso fresco and cilantro in a grilled corn tortilla.
Smoky Spice Rub
3 tbsp. chipotle chile powder
3 tbsp. smoked paprika
⅓ tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ tsp. salt
Smoky Chili Watermelon
1½ lb. watermelon, cut in 1-in. dice
1 tbsp. smoky spice rub (recipe above)
5 lb. pork shoulder, cut in 2-in. dice
5 tbsp. smoky spice rub (recipe above)
3 tbsp. salt
6 oz. onion, cut in ¼-in. dice
1 oz. finely chopped garlic
1 can (7 oz.) chipotle chiles in adobo
Watermelon and Carnitas Tacos
24 corn tortillas (heated on grill)
72 pieces carnitas, skewered
3 cups fresh spinach, stemmed
1 cup salsa verde
1½ cups crumbled queso fresco
1½ lb. smoky chili watermelon matchsticks
24 leaves cilantro
24 lime wedges
- For smoky spice rub, combine all ingredients and store in airtight container.
- Season watermelon with smoky spice rub. Place into plastic bag and vacuum to compress watermelon. Refrigerate for 12 hours; use within 2 days. When ready to use, cut watermelon cubes into 1-inch matchsticks.
- For carnitas, season pork with smoky spice rub and salt. In 4-inch-deep hotel pan, combine pork with onion, garlic and chipotles in adobo. Cover airtight with foil.
- Preheat convection oven to 350 F. Place pork in oven and braise 2 hours or until meat is fork tender. Let cool in pan; cover and refrigerate.
- Per serving, thread pork cubes on skewers. Place skewers on grill and heat evenly until carnitas are hot throughout.
- Place a tortilla on a plate and top with ½ cup spinach and 3 pieces hot carnitas. Top with salsa verde, queso fresco and watermelon matchsticks. Garnish with cilantro leaf and lime wedge.
Photo courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board