Traditional Mexican tacos
Double cooking ensures tender, crisp beef for carnitas
Josh Poling, who grew up in Alvaton, graduated with a political science degree from Miami University. “But all I wanted was a barbecue place,” he says. His father urged him to attend culinary school, and he attended Sullivan University in Lexington.
In August 2011 he opened the Home Café and Marketplace in Bowling Green after working in restaurants in Lexington, Midway, and Bowling Green.
At first, Josh and his wife, Chelsey, thought they’d focus on sandwiches and pizza “with as much locally produced products as possible.” Pizza, sandwiches, and now a changing assortment of tacos are flexible receptacles for seasonal products.
Poling has branched into more dinner fare, offering meals that change every day. Local farmer Steve Dolan’s sirloin can end up in an Asian soup with rice noodles, local ginger, shiitake mushrooms, and seasonal vegetables. Poling’s favorite food, though, is soft-taco carnitas. “I love Mexican food,” he says.
Home Café is located at 2440 Nashville Road #108, Bowling Green. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Home Café Carnitas Tradicional
Carnitas are traditionally a dish of pork shoulder fried in lard. Josh roasts the pork first so that it becomes tender, then finishes it in oil to crisp the outside.
1 (6-8 lb) local pork shoulder
Tex Mex Dry Rub (recipe below)
Soft flour or corn tortillas
Tex Mex Dry Rub
Combine 2 tablespoons each smoked paprika and oregano and 1⁄4 cup each freshly ground pepper, granulated garlic, ground cumin, and salt. (You won’t use all this mixture on the carnitas. Use extra for a barbecue rub.)
A day ahead of serving, heat oven to 350°. Trim fat on pork to 1⁄4 inch. Rub with kosher salt. Place pork in oven and roast to an internal temperature of 165°; cool and refrigerate overnight.
To serve: fill a deep pan with several inches of oil. Heat to 350°. Chop pork in 3⁄4- to 1-inch cubes. Working in batches (do not crowd pork), place it into the hot oil for about 1 to 1 1⁄2 minutes until crisp. (Make sure oil has recovered temperature between pork batches. Not doing this will result in greasy pork.) Remove pork pieces and immediately toss them in Tex Mex Dry Rub; remove pork, shaking off excess rub. Hold in a 200° oven while you finish frying remainder of pork.
To build the tacos: Place soft flour or corn tortilla on counter. Place some pork in the center, followed by slaw, pickled jalapenos, and then drizzle with some sauce from the slaw. Serves 8-10.
Find Poling’s recipe for homemade slaw online at
Cooking Tips: Slaw recipe, local products, and more.
Best Ever Meatballs
Recipe by Sarah Fritschner
1⁄2 C milk
2 slices firm bread
1 lb ground beef
1⁄3 C (freshly grated) Parmesan or Romano cheese
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 large cloves garlic (or 2-3 tsp minced)
1⁄4 tsp ground allspice, optional
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 qt spaghetti sauce
Beat egg in a medium bowl and add milk. Beat briefly. Tear the bread coarsely and soak in milk for 5 minutes, mixing with a fork. Add beef, cheese, parsley, garlic, allspice, salt, and pepper. Stir or mix with your hands until the mixture is combined well.
Heat oven to 375°. Spray a shallow baking pan with cooking spray. Shape meatballs about 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter, placing them on the pan with a little room between each. Bake 20 minutes or until meatballs are browned. Combine meatballs with tomato sauce and simmer to flavor sauce. Or serve meatballs on top of spaghetti, and cover all with sauce. Serves 6.