Saturday, January 28, 2012
Cuban Pork Street Tacos
One thing I love is going to a really authentic Mexican restaurant:
The ones that are often located in a hidden, hole-in-the-wall type of location.
The ones that are sometimes in a somewhat questionable neighborhood.
The ones where you actually see Mexican customers.
But most important of all, the ones that serve small soft tacos, usually for around $1.00 each.
Those are the BEST! I love getting the small street tacos, usually with pollo (chicken) or carnitas (pork). They always have so much flavor, especially with the traditional topping of onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
Every once in a while, my boyfriend and I will make the short drive to a little restaurant in Westminster, called Taqueria Mexico. They have the best authentic street tacos, and at 88 cents each, you really can't beat it! But of course, it's not always convenient to make the drive over there, especially living in Southern California where there is always the issue of traffic. So, when I saw the recipe for Cuban Street Tacos at Mel's Kitchen Cafe, I knew I had to try it.
This recipe consists of seasoned pork, seared, then cooked in a slow cooker. The slow cooking method gets the meat really tender and juicy, allowing you to easily shred it in preparation for making tacos. It also allows time for the meat to absorb the flavors from all of the ingredients in the pot.
This recipe made plenty of shredded pork, so Tony and I were able to eat tacos for several days! The best part is, we never got tired of eating tacos. We layered the pork on a warm, soft corn tortilla, with a little bit of chopped onion, tomato, and cilantro. Then we sliced up some fresh limes to squeeze over each taco, and added a bit of sliced avocado on the side. We also kicked it up notch by drizzling each with our favorite brand of hot sauce, Valentino.
Although we've finished up all of the pork now, we're already planning to make this recipe again. It made dinner really easy for us for a few nights, so it'd be a great recipe to make on Sunday, before a busy work week. I'm glad I have an alternative option now for those days when I can't make it to Taqueria Mexico!
Cuban Pork Street Tacos
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Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Yield: Serves 8
For the pork:
4-pound boneless pork butt or boneless pork top-loin roast, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp canola oil or vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 onion, peeled and halved
Juice of 1 lime
1 medium orange, halved and juiced, rinds reserved
For the tacos:
Small corn tortillas
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges
Avocados (if desired)
Your favorite hot sauce (if desired)
Rub the pieces of pork all over with salt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, until the oil is simmering and hot. Add the pork and sear each piece on all sides, working in batches, if needed. Once browned, remove the pork to the slow cooker. Into the same pot used to sear the pork, pour in the water and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pot with a flat-edged spatula to loosen the brown bits from the bottom. Add pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, jalapenos, onion, lime juice, orange juice, and orange rinds and bring to a simmer. Pour the mixture over the pork in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the pork is very tender.
Remove the bay leaves, onion, and orange rinds from the pot and discard. Remove the pork and place in a bowl set aside. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a pot on the stove and over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Let the mixture boil until it reduces to about 1 cup and is thickened slightly, about 10-15 minutes.
Shred the pork into a bowl and pour sauce over the pork. Serve in tortillas garnished with onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges, hot sauce, and avocado slices, if desired.