Beer Braised Pork Lettuce Cups with Mango Salsa

Juicy pork ribs are braised in flavorful beer until they are fall-apart-tender. Then, we top them with the sweet/savory flavor explosion that is mango salsa. This dish is easy to prepare, and makes for very versatile leftovers.

It’s a meal that’s great for carb lovers and carb avoiders alike. Even my carboholic Ovi, didn’t miss the tortillas when I served him a plate full of tender cabbage leaves topped with succulent pork, and tropical salsa. Actually, I don’t think he said anything. There was however, a lot of nodding, eye closing, and there was definitely a trip made for seconds. Strong endorsements.

These were originally going to be “pulled pork and mango salsa endive boats.” As it turns out, I don’t really like endives that much. Who knew? Dang it! they look so pretty in the little boats, that I was almost willing to just suffer through the endive taste for the sake of cuteness. If you enjoy endives, you’re in luck! They look adorable without much effort. I enjoyed the slightly sweet taste of a baby savoy cabbage much more than the bitterness of the endive.

I shared the photos for the sake of cuteness. Small food tastes at least 78% better than normal sized food. I couldn’t help myself.


For the “lettuce” cups:

  • 1 very small savoy cabbage or 2-3 small endives
    • You can really use any type of lettuce you want here. I prefer the thin cabbage leaves from a baby savoy because they’re crisp but pliable. Perfect for rolling into little taco shells!

For the pork:

  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
    • I used country style ribs, which come pre-sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus additional for adjusting)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or other high smoke point oil
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 20 oz of good beer
    • I chose an amber lager for it’s tasty wheat notes and honey scent. Avoid the temptation to use light beer! Don’t do it!
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bunch coriander/cilantro stalks (tied together tightly with kitchen twine)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Juice and peel of of 1/2 an orange
  • 2 chilies in adobo
    • I read a great tip over at thekitchn that recommends chopping the entire can of chilies with their sauce and freezing in log shape formed with a small freezer bag. Then, you can just cut off a piece for your recipes! It ends up working out to 1 pepper per 1/2 inch. Smarty pants. Most recipes call for 2 at most, and there are more than 6 in a can.

For the salsa:

  • 2 ripe mangoes (peeled and diced)
  • 1/4 cup red onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (seeds/veins removed and diced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 1/8 cup cilantro (rough chopped)
  • 1 small clove garlic (fine mince or pressed)
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime or lemon (or to taste)
  • Salt to taste

I have a slight pulled pork addiction. Okay…maybe it’s more than slight. Do you know how cheap pork shoulder is at Costco? It’s ridiculous. I bought a 10 pound (really!) of trimmed pork country style ribs for $12.00. That’s crazy. I freeze it in a few batches, and each one makes a big batch of pulled pork. Making pulled pork is crazy easy. You cook it in tasty liquid until it falls apart. That’s it. Bonus points for browning it first. Your family and friends will think you slaved over it. You didn’t. You threw stuff in a pot, and then accepted love and adoration. Suckers. Just kidding guys. Feeling feisty today. Okay, I guess lifting a 300 pound (approximately) pot out of the oven counts as effort.  Unless you’re really buff. You probably are.


For the pork:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375° F
  • Rub pork with salt and cumin
  • Heat oil to medium high in an oven proof skillet (with a tight fitting lid for the braising stage)
  • Brown pork well on all sides in oil, move to a plate and set aside
  • Add onions and garlic to the hot pan and saute briefly
  • Add water to pan and scrape to release browned bits
  • Return pork and remaining ingredients to the pan, and top with beer
    • Pork should be about 3/4 covered with liquid
  • Cover pork and braise in your pre-heated oven for 2 hours, or until it easily pulls apart with a fork
    • Turn pork once, halfway through braise.
  • Move pork to a serving dish, reserving liquid, and shred with two forks
  • Season with additional salt if necessary and spoon some of the braising liquid over the top to finish
For the Salsa:
Chop, season, combine and toss to distribute. You knew that, though. Everyone can make salsa. Easy easy. Just make sure to scrub the bejeezus out of your hands before you forget you touched peppers, and rub your eyeball. Jalapeno eyeball syndrome is no joke….or so I hear. I wouldn’t know…..really….sniffle…sniffle…

Full disclosure: I forgot to add the jalapeño to my salsa. It was still good. If you like your food more on the mild side, you’ll be happy to know this mango salsa tastes great even if you decide to ditch the peppers.

Do you have a favorite endive recipe? I hate being conquered by a leafy vegetable! I have a couple slightly stripped endives in my veggie bin that I’m willing to experiment with. They’re so cute! I’m willing to give it another go.

Yummy! These pictures are making me hungry all over again. Success!

Everything looks smaller in Costco. A fifteen pound bag of potatoes totally looks like a reasonable size for 2 people when you’re in there. Everything is huge there. I’m a small person. Shopping in warehouse stores make me feel like I’m in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” Buying 10 pounds of pork, 2 gallons of windex (really) and 10 mangoes seems totally reasonable there too. Not that I did that…..yes. I did that. I also bought what may be the worlds biggest bottle of vodka. Infused vodka post coming soon!

Pork zoom. I bet my camera smells like a vent fan.

My shopping cart looked really insane this time at Costco. We go there every couple of months to stock up on cleaning supplies and meat for the freezer. It almost always looks like we’re preparing for the apocalypse. Items included: 2 gallons of windex, 10 pounds of pork, giant bottle of vodka, and a value pack of shaving cream. What’s the most random combo you’ve taken home?

PS – I also bought my camera at Costco. So I can take pictures of other things I buy from there and share them with you. Clearly, I’m addicted.

Related Posts (vegetarians avert your eyes): 

Fancify your leftovers:


7 thoughts on “Beer Braised Pork Lettuce Cups with Mango Salsa

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