Weeknights with Jenny

Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos

By • January 30, 2012 • 37 Comments

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Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos

- Jenny

As I pulled my crock pot out to make Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos and noticed that the lid was covered with a thick layer of dust, I felt a tiny wave of shame. Here I am, ever on the hunt for a weeknight meal, and yet I have totally abandoned the working parent’s central tool toward fast and easy meals, one that does your cooking for you while you toil for the man. 

This recipe is about as good as it gets, because the bang you get from the prep, while minimal,  is enormous, and really honestly your active time (a term I dislike because active is in the eye of the beholder; I consider wiping up all my spills, rooting around madly for my cumin and yelling, “WHO TOOK MY DANG CUMIN?” at no one in particular pretty active) is about ten minutes.

I put together this rub a few minutes before leaving the house. Yes, I finally bought onion powder, but I did not have “granulated garlic” so I just chopped a few cloves finely. I rubbed that roast all up, and put it in my pan of hot oil (olive, as my heat was not super high) and went to brush my teeth. 

I’m back! I turned it, and then spent the next few minutes making sure everyone else had brushed their teeth, then came downstairs to sear the ends while simultaneously supervising a backpack pack up. Are you seeing the multitasking possibilities here? 

I covered the meat as instructed with water; I somehow failed to put the cooker on high, and instead made this on the low setting for about 10 hours, arriving home to a slightly smoky, delicious smell. My husband felt this led to slightly dry meat; I found it tasty, well-seasoned, falling-apart carnita meat that made me pine for my Los Angeles taco truck. 

Delicious. But I haven’t gotten to the really good part yet! The slaw you put together for these tacos is so divine, you may find yourself spooning up the left over bits without any meat at all. 

To make it, I did buy already pre-cut slaw, keeping in the weeknight spirit of things, and used a little less ginger than the recipe called for, all mixed up in under five minutes. The lime served as a perfect acid dominatrix to the surrendering pork, and the bit of crunch gave a texture compliment as well.

I tried corn and flour tortillas with this; corn is much better.

Friends, let’s recap: minimal prep, almost no clean up, limes exciting the hell out of you in the middle of the winter, tacos!

After you’re done, I suggest some ice cream straight from the pint. 

Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos by Erin Powell

Serves 6

Citrus Rubbed Pulled Pork:

2 pounds boneless pork roast
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 limes, zested
2 tablespoons oil

Citrus Slaw:

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8 ounces raw cole slaw mix (or make your own)
12 corn tortillas

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Photo by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (37)

Tags: everyday cooking

Comments (37)


almost 3 years ago joeys

i would recommend using a pork shoulder which could also be called butt, boston butt, or the whole thing would be called a picnic roast. you could use tenderloin or something else. The benefits of shoulder/butt is the end product will be more tender, juicier, and much more flavorful. In addition as it slow cook,s the fat and collagen renders down to a thicker juice that gives great mouthfeel--like a good stock will do. Also keep in mind that the cost of the shoulder will be less than a quarter of the price of tenderloin.
p.s. make 2x what you think you'll need. Freeze leftovers or use for breakfast burritos, nachos, or pizza toppings. YUM.


almost 3 years ago kriscooks

This was delicious! However, I did the same recipe in my dutch oven on 300 for the same cooking time. I know, I could't seem to get the dust off of my slow cooker either! My family votes this recipe to be a keeper in the family cookbook!


about 3 years ago mcs3000

Love carnitas tacos. I'll fess up - got a crock pot a few years and used it once. Will dust it off and try it.


almost 3 years ago Jestei

hope you like it


about 3 years ago gingerlover4ever

try substituting ginger liqueur for fresh ginger - you'll love the way it cooks off. I prefer Domaine de Canton.


about 3 years ago Jestei

what a great idea. i love that stuff.


about 3 years ago Diane Mann

This looks amazing! Simple, tasty and endless possibilities. I bet the house smells great when it's in the crockpot too. Thanks for sharing. Cannot wait to try it.


about 3 years ago onlinepizza

Thank you so much for wonderful recipe.


about 3 years ago greenchilemaven

This does sound really good. But I'm wondering what cut of pork you suggest using?


about 3 years ago Jestei

the recipe calls for shoulder but i think tenderloins would be fine but the meat experts should weigh in here


about 3 years ago gt9


No slow cooker but, as usual, you are pretty persuasive, ok, really persuasive,
on going out to get one.

Thoughts on using one of those little pork tenderloins the sell out here.


about 3 years ago Jestei

I think it would work well actually


about 3 years ago Savour

Pork tenderloin is a LOT leaner than shoulder -- a long cook in a slow cooker could yield dryish meat. That said, I've made pork tenderloin dishes in the slow cooker and they turned out fine.


about 3 years ago d_ribbens

I am addicted to my slow cooker, so thank you for bringing this delicious-looking recipe to my attention! I am excited to try it!


about 3 years ago Jestei

what else do you like to make in your cooker?


about 3 years ago d_ribbens

Lots of stew, curry, and chili. I have recipes for a slow cooker roast chicken, an apple spice cake, risotto, spinach artichoke dip. When I get some time I will try and post some on here. :)


about 3 years ago calendargirl

This will help me make the transition from last week in San Antonio (oh, the food!) back to DC. Is there a good taco truck here, anyone know? As for the slow cooker, Liz is right about brisket -- it is heavenly done in a slow cooker. I recently discovered SLOW COOKER REVOLUTION by the Cooks Illustrated gang, quite helpful in getting me to think about how to use that appliance. I have a feeling the slow cooker is a bit like the processor: it changes the way you think about what is possible and enlarges your options. One caveat: I made the mistake of buying one which is too large for many purposes --- size is the kicker here. If I had the space (ah, space...) I would have a large one and a small one.


about 3 years ago Jestei

I heard about the CI thing. i should look that up.


almost 3 years ago sfmiller

If you have a car, La Preferida truck in Takoma Park (New Hampshire Ave near East-West Highway) is pretty good. And there's a Little Mexico in Prince George's County along Kenilworth Avenue and Edmonston Road just west of East-West Highway with several good, inexpensive mom-and-pop tacquerias (I recommend Tres Reyes and La Placita) and an occasional truck.


almost 3 years ago calendargirl

Thanks for the tips, sfmiller! I look forward to giving them a try.


about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

so, i probably should not have given my crock pot to Goodwill. This sounds really good. Thank you Jenny for finding another weeknight dinner idea. And, is that a side??? I am duly impressed.


about 3 years ago Jestei

well, a garnish. but that's a start, right? also you can probably make this in a dutch oven.


about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wow, this looks right up our alley, so I've put it on my menu plan for next week. I'm always on the prowl for another excellent pork shoulder recipe. So glad you found, tried and reported on this! Thank you. ;o)


about 3 years ago thirschfeld

Antonia you are absolutely right it is a wonderful recipe. I have been craving tacos of late and I think I will make these too.


about 3 years ago Jestei

Hope you like it!!!


about 3 years ago healthierkitchen

I've been looking at this recipe for a while. New impetus to act on it and find my slow cooker.


about 3 years ago Jestei

its in that cabinet behind that thing.


almost 3 years ago healthierkitchen

That is exactly where it is!


about 3 years ago Lizthechef

Ditto - why is it that using a slow cooker is somehow considered not "real" cooking? I threw a brisket in mine yesterday and we enjoyed a terrific meal after a busy day.


about 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

I agree - maybe we'll see a "Your Best Slow Cooker Dish" challenge in the near future? :)


about 3 years ago thirschfeld

Liz I jokingly made a comment on Twitter the other day about slow cookers because I have been thinking about them lately. While it was a slight I have never considered them not "real" cooking but actually just a piece of equipment you don't need. How is a slow cooker different from your oven on a low temperature? I often wrap brisket in foil and leave it to go all night waking to the most tender and juicy pulled beef imaginable. Does one use less power then the other, is a crock pot more safe then my oven? I ask, with sincerity, because I just don't see the draw to having another thing stuffed in my cabinets that I use occasionally. Really I am not against them I just don't get them. Can someone explain the attraction for me?


about 3 years ago Jestei

Generally I do not like to weigh in on technique debates because I am really nothing more than a home cook duffer. Crock pots are using moisture, while what you are talking about is really a different process in the oven. Further, and I can only speak for myself here, I would NOT be comfortable leaving my oven on while gone or sleeping. I have had a recent incident involving dog food and mice that I am unable to discuss without shuddering right now but it caused a fire in the back of the oven. So there is that.


about 3 years ago thirschfeld

I can see where you are coming from from the mouse issue, I have heard of that and fortunately have not had that problem, knock on wood.


about 3 years ago Sagegreen

You had me at minimal prep. I have decided to take on the challenge and pleasure of week night entertaining...deciding it was high time to reclaim that time back from " the man." Thanks, Jenny, for ferreting this recipe out!


about 3 years ago Jestei

i hope you give it a whirl.


about 3 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

I appreciate that you featured a slow cooker, a.k.a. crockpot recipe. It seems to get a bad rap because of the old school ingredients, like canned soup and other processed stuff. Nothing is better than coming home after a long day of work or skiing to the wonderful aroma of a hot cooked delicious meal.


about 3 years ago Jestei

totally. you just need the RIGHT recipes, and i do think it is important to sear first..