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Ok, I’ll confess, I’ve never actually eaten a street taco. Not a one. Not a Mexican street taco, not a Cuban street taco. We just don’t get a lot of street tacos where I live smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin. I wish we did. But we certainly don’t. (Now Brat Barns? That’s a different story entirely.) Clearly I need to leave my home state a tad more often in order to experience life to the fullest and finally eat a street taco.
However, this recipe for Cuban Street Tacos appealed to me on so many levels, even though I’ve never had an authentic street taco before. First, there is something about slow cooked pork, shredded and smothered in the flavorful, reduced cooking juices that just gets me. Kind of like this recipe. Heaven on earth. Plus, I wanted to make this recipe for its simplicity (don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off).
I’m sure I blasted off any trace of authenticity by a) using a slow cooker, b) not broiling the meat to crispiness after cooking, and c) eating the tacos in flour tortillas instead of corn. But hey, like I said, it isn’t like I’ve had a real schooling in street taco authenticity in these parts. And anyway, I like to eat food the way I like to eat it.
The pork transcends deliciousness by soaking up the flavors of the smoky spices and gentle heat of the jalapeno. Oranges and a hint of lime give wonderful touches of fresh lightness to the tacos. Eaten in tacos one day and transformed into quesadillas the next, this meal was an absolute home run.
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- 4-pound boneless pork butt or boneless pork top loin roast, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 medium orange, halved and juice, rinds reserved
- 8 small corn or flour tortillas
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Sour cream/avocados, if desired
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 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 shimmering 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 pan with a flat-edged spatula or wooden spoon to get up all the delicious 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 and 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 and place on a large patter. Spoon the sauce over the pork. Serve in tortillas garnished with onions, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, avocado and additional lime wedges, if desired.
Recipe Source: adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen, originally from Cook’s Illustrated June 2008