Slow-Cooked Pork Tacos

By • March 21, 2011 32 Comments

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Author Notes: This dish was inspired by a recipe from Fine Cooking for chili con carne. We'd been eating a lot of beef recently, so I decided to try the chili with pork shoulder instead. Then, I thought I might reduce the liquid a little and get rid of the cannellini beans, so I'd end up with more of a thick stew than a soup. Maybe I should stuff the pork into corn tortillas, instead of serving it in bowls? And while I was at it, I might as well sub in aargersi's addictive, multi-purpose pickled onions for the plain old red onion, right? With these and a few other modifications, some delicious pork tacos were born -- all thanks to the fine folks at Fine Cooking.Merrill Stubbs

Serves 4 to 6, depending on hunger level

Pork Tacos

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (not too lean), cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade or low sodium)
  • 2 large limes
  • Corn tortillas
  • 2 avocados
  • Pickled onions (recipe below)
  • Cilantro, washed and dried
  • Sour cream (optional)
  1. Put the cumin and coriander in a small pan and set over medium heat. Toast the spices for a minute or two, shaking the pan occasionally, until they’re fragrant. (Be careful not to scorch them.) Grind the spices finally using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in both chile powders and the oregano and set aside.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the pork well with salt and add about half of the meat to the pot. Brown it well on all sides, about 4 minutes total, and transfer it to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Add more oil and brown the second batch of meat, adding it to the bowl once it’s done.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add the onion, poblano, serrano and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so, until fragrant. Stir in the spice mixture and cook for another minute.
  4. Return the meat to the pot, with any juices that have accumulated, and add the tomatoes and chicken stock. (The meat should be covered in liquid – if it’s not, add a little water.) Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Turn the heat up to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover the pot and simmer gently for an hour. Uncover the pot and continue to simmer until the pork is very tender and the sauce is reduced and thick, 30 to 60 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed, and squeeze in the juice of another half a lime.
  5. To serve, heat the tortillas in the oven or in a dry pan. Peel and roughly chop the avocados and cut the remaining lime into thin wedges. Fill each taco with some of the pork, pickled onions, avocado, cilantro and sour cream if you like. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.

Pickled Onions, à la aargersi

  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 medium beet, peeled
  • Handful cilantro
  • Cider vinegar
  1. Slice the onion thinly and put it in a microwaveable container. Add the salt, sugar, beet and cilantro. Cover everything with 1 part water to 2 parts vinegar. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for another minute. Cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

More Great Recipes: Beets|Tacos|Pickles|Pork|Entrees

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Comments (32) Questions (11)


about 1 month ago justwildbeat

Simply delicious! I also suggest removing the meat once tender to speed up the reducing process. The pickled onions were a great touch and very easy to make. Also omitted the beet but as long as you use a red onion, they come out bright pink.


4 months ago windysiprits

This was absolutely a stunner. Made it this evening and my tummy is very happy! Even the husband, who is not a fan of Mexican food, was devouring this. The pickled onions add a very nice crunch to the whole thing. Thanks for a great recipe!


about 1 year ago Diane

I made this for guests and it was delicious. I doubled the recipe and was happy that there were lots of left overs. It made great sandwiches the next day. Reducing/thickening the sauce was key, however it did take a lot longer (about 2 hours or so) then indicated in the recipe. Next time I make it I will remove the pork once it's tender. Then continue to reduce sauce until thick, returning the pork at end to coat. Definitely make the pickled onions. They add a nice texture and wonderful additional flavour. Really good on the sandwich the next day too. I will definitely make this again. It's a winner!


about 1 year ago BurntCream

The pickled onions are fantastic! Unbelievably simple and easy to prepare. I didn't have a beet so left it out any they are still a vibrant pink.


about 2 years ago debsiegel

This was stupid delicious. Thanks for an AWESOME recipe.


about 2 years ago WifeyAndrea

Made these for dinner tonight, EXCELLENT!!! The whole family loved them. Even the kids raved about the pickled onions...


over 3 years ago cateler

This was just AMAZING. Thanks Merrill - will be making this all summer long.


over 3 years ago WCmom

This is my go to meal now when we have a ton of teenagers coming over for dinner. A true crowd pleaser!


over 3 years ago Vitkin

I was thinking of substituting the pork for tofu and mushrooms, and vegetable stock for the chicken stock to make a vegetarian (even vegan) version. Any tips on adjusting the cooking time


over 3 years ago raisedbycoffee

I made this last night for a "New Years 2012 Taco Party" and the pork was a huge hit (for those who ate meat). A couple people asked for me to come to their house every week and make a batch for them. I appreciate the variety of chilis used for how they meld and create a flavorful kick. I'm also glad you included the onions in the recipe; they're a necessary flavor contrast for the taco.


over 3 years ago wahini

Approximately how much water/vinegar mixture?


over 3 years ago wahini

Approximately how much water/vinegar mixture?


over 3 years ago spinal77

Absolutely delicious. Could use a bit more kick though. I made 3lbs instead of just two, and I ended up having to simmer what seemed a long time, eventually the pork was starting to break up a little so thats when I stopped simmering it. I didn't bother with the onions, I just put it on some tortillas with a little cheese and its so simple but good.


about 4 years ago phyllis

I made this on Sunday for a house full of people and everyone loved it. I played around with the spices, and made two versions--one for the timid and a spicier one for the rest of us. I also have a family member who doesn't eat pork, so I roasted some chicken parts for her, shredded and poured off some of the sauce and put in the chicken to simmer. I made the tortillas, grilled some corn and we had a wonderful feast. Thank you!!!!!


about 4 years ago cookinbklyn

Just made this--so delicious! I bought some homemade corn tortillas at the farmer's market, which put it over the top. Never going back to the store bought stuff which is like wallpaper. Made a pot of black beans to serve on the side.


about 4 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Wow, sounds great!


about 4 years ago lexilarkin

making these again tonight they are so unbelievably good!! my boyfriend has been asking to make them again!! Thanks for the recipe and for my favorite food site!


about 4 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're so welcome!


over 4 years ago wendymoore

These pork tacos were unbelievably delicious. I marinated my pickled onions with cloves and cinnamon sticks, based on a recipe I found on David Lebovitz's blog. The combo of the pork and the onions was really mind-blowing!


over 4 years ago Señora Hughes

these tacos are fabulous- I'm a mexican cook living in Hong Kong- I printed this recipe and wanted to make it for weeks. I couldn't find the ancho or chipotle powder so I was resisting, I ended up using a few thai chillis, and cayenne pepper. I had some whole chipotles, and put one in for flavor. They were DIVINE. 5 stars in my book! Everyone loved them, and they were so easy to make! I'm sure I will be making these often!


over 4 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks! So glad you enjoyed them.


over 4 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Seriously, this stuff would be good on a roof shingle.


over 4 years ago ourlastsupper

I slow cooked a huge pork butt for pork tacos this week too. But I still had a lot leftover, even after two nights of pork tacos. I ended up making a pork ragu//bolognese that I served over your Buttery Polenta with Parmesan. It was so good and a great way to serve 'leftovers', again, with no eye-rolling.


over 4 years ago Waverly

Looks VERY nice - just right - and I bet aargersi's onions are perfect with it.


over 4 years ago eatatvino

We made this over the weekend and it was delicious :-) I am glad we decided not to half the recipe because that meant we have an amazing lunch to look forward to the next day! Definitely a keeper :-)


over 4 years ago kateinitaly

I made this recipe for a group of friends here in Florence. Italian food is heaven, but after a while you need some spicy, Mexican-inspired dishes to vary things up a bit. We had to sub for a few things we couldn't find, but this recipe got RAVE reviews. The perfect amount of spice.


over 4 years ago MamaCanela

Made these tacos for dinner today. They were a hit! I added couple more slices of beets to intensify the color of the onion. I used some thick pork loin chops and cut into chunks. Simply delicious.


over 4 years ago LittleRobinRed

Made it - loved it! This is just the recipe I've been looking for. Most recipes for carnitas only have you marinate the meat then cook it, no sauce. This pork is tender, saucy, and flavorful. Loved the pickled onions too, just like you get from the taco trucks.


over 4 years ago alexmr

I made this last night and it was amazing!!


over 4 years ago Darlene Carrigan

Made this for dinner last night. Amazing! The leftovers that I had for lunch is even better. I didn't have chipotle powder, so I used chipotle in adobo. Really like the tang coming off the adobo sauce. This recipe is moving into the regular rotation. Thank you Merrill!


over 4 years ago monkeymom

I love pork shoulder and I love aargersi's onions. Double winner.


over 4 years ago Fairmount_market

Sounds delicious. I recently submitted a similar recipe, based on one from Rick Bayless, that slow cooks pork in tomatillos, so a green version of this one, but I kept in the beans.