So, a few weeks ago, the Contrarian broke down and took me out to eat during a busy shopping spree in town. We decided on Applebee’s. We had a great appetizer called Wonton Tacos. If you haven’t tried them, do so, but read on.
Course, I assumed that I was the only one who so liked these that I would try to duplicate them myself. Duh. I actually found another recipe, based on Applebee’s format, but thought it rather tacky since it started with “purchased” barbecued pork.
I mean, that is not cooking, that is putting other people’s cooking together to form a dish. Okay, if you want to, feel free, but my recipe is not complicated nor messy as it might appear at first glance.
We made these last Friday and frankly they were not exactly what Applebee’s had, but close enough, and so delicious that the Contrarian swears mine were better. That may or may not be, but, take a look.
The Meat pork brisket (my butcher said boneless pork ribs would suffice) 1-1½ lbs salt, pepper, garlic powder, season generously liquid smoke- 1 tbsp oil- 1 tbsp beef broth – low sodium – 3/4 cup barbecue sauce – 2/3 cup
Add the oil to a large enough (cast iron preferred ) pot to accommodate the meat in one layer without crowding. Season the meat and brown on all sides over med-high heat. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add beef broth and liquid smoke. Liquid should come up at least 1/3 of the way up the meat. Cover and braise (very low boil) for at least 2 hours or until the meat starts to fall apart when picked up with tongs. Remove from liquid and set aside to cool. Pull apart into shreds with forks or tongs.
You can do this in the morning if you wish and then add the barbecue sauce near dinner time and reheat to just warm in the microwave. Mix the sauce into the shredded meat. The amount here is flexible. I would say you want the meat covered, but not sopping.
As to the barbecue sauce: Use your favorite homemade or bottled. It is better if it is not a sweet sauce, but heat of course is up to you. I like both Cattleman’s and Budweiser commercial brands.
The Coleslaw 1/4 head of a medium cabbage mayo – scant 1/3 cup pepper 1/2 tsp salt – pinch vinegar – 2 tsp hot sauce 1 tbsp or as you wish sugar – 1 tbsp or to taste
You of course can buy the store bought stuff, but slicing it yourself is certainly not hard. I’d say about 2 cups. As to the dressing, I know there is store dressing, but I have never used it. The point of this dressing is that it needs to be sweet to offset the tang of the barbecue sauce, and not too vinegary.
As to amounts, please understand that I don’t personally use a lot of measuring when I cook, so I’m trying to estimate for you. The coleslaw when dressed should be quite a bit drier than you might normally like for regular coleslaw. It’s the crunch and the sweetness that you want more than the mayo. If you barbecue sauce is quite “hot” then you might want to lessen the heat in the slaw.
The Wontons One package – you will use only a fraction of the package. I froze the balance in three packages. Don’t know if it will work or not, but I couldn’t just throw them away! Oil for deep fat frying
This is the tricky part, and frankly I puzzled for a long time. Wontons are square, so to make them like “taco’s” means to corner them, leaving a fillable pocket. Also we assumed we had to submerge the entire thing and so we were thinking fairly deep oil as well.
All this is off-putting, since I don’t like the mess of deep frying, but in the end, we found it was simple. After trying to make the “taco” shapes, we realized that we could do it faster and easier by ignoring that shape entirely. (The pic above is NOT ours, but Applebee’s)
Use a small-even a 6 inch is fine-cast iron pan. Fill with at least an inch of oil (canola). Heat to around 375. Lay the wonton in the oil and immediately depress the middle with the flat of a wooden spoon or a gravy ladle. Hold for a few seconds until the form is set and then let fry for a few additional seconds. They take only about 1 minute per, so it goes fast. Remove with tongs and place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. When all are done, place in a warm oven until you are ready to eat.
The oil can be saved. It is essentially perfectly “clean.” So the mess is minimal and you don’t use much oil at all.
Assemble by placing a tablespoon or so of the pulled pork into the “well” and then add about the same amount of slaw. Enjoy.
I think some sprigs of cilantro might be a nice addition if you like it. We didn’t think of that. You can also of course use chicken or beef for that matter. As long as the meat will pull, it will work.
We ate four apiece. You may want more or less depending on whether you have any sides. The meat will make about 16 tacos I would guess. We tried the remainder of the meat on Sunday on just hamburger buns. The Contrarian thought they were fine, but the crunch of the wontons really really adds to the dish I found.