Serves a Crowd

Cuban Pulled Pork Tacos

March 29, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 8 hungry people, plus lots of leftovers
Author Notes

During a blustery snow storm in NY while under the weight of snowfall, trees in Central Park were falling onto buses, I was thinking of limes. Weather like that called for hearty meals, but I kept veering towards lighter dishes. Perhaps it was my unwillingness to put on those compulsory winter pounds that prevented me from sitting down and eating a bowl full of garlic mashed potatoes or a filling beef stew. I made Pulled Pork tacos instead and served them at a party for ravenous people. —NakedBeet

Test Kitchen Notes

What a brilliant recipe! The citrus, tamarind, garlic and herb marinade subtly flavors the meat, then becomes a delicious sauce for moist, tender meat that's not at all fatty. (The pork was so delicious, in fact, that we did not stir the sauce back in, but instead used it to jazz up our cranberry beans.) I recommend using less salt than called for; with just one teaspoon (for a 2.3 pound roast), the sauce was a bit too salty for me. I plan to use this marinade/sauce with pan-roasted butterflied chicken, we like it so much. Mr. T and I give this an enthusiastic FOUR thumbs up!
- AntoniaJames —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3.5 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup tamarind paste liquid
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • dash ground pepper
  1. To make the tamarind liquid, mix 3 tbsp of tamarind paste with 1/3 cup of boiled water. Using the back of a spoon or a fork, mash the paste into the water until you get most of the tamarind pulp distributed in the water. Strain and reserve this liquid.
  2. In a large bowl big enough for the pork shoulder stir the orange juice, lime juice, tamarind liquid, garlic and all the spices. Cut your pork shoulder into 3 large chunks, trimming off as much or as little of the excess fat. Place your pork into the bowl with the marinade and briefly massage the orange marinade over each side and piece of the pork. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Once your pork is marinated, preheat your oven to 350º and pat dry all the pieces of pork. Boil the reserved marinade for a few minutes and save for later. In a dutch oven, brown all the pieces on each side. Cover the pot and cook the pork in the oven for 2 1/2 hours or until the pieces are fork tender and begin to fall apart if you pull at them gently. More fat will have drained from the pork and you can remove some of this, but you'll want to leave in most to keep the shredded pork moist.
  4. Place your dutch oven over the stovetop and on low heat start shredding the pork. You can add some of the reserved marinade liquid to the pork as you shred it.
  5. Optional side garnishes to serve alongside pulled pork and warm corn tortillas: diced and deseeded jalapeno, white onion diced, chopped cilantro, fresh lime quarters, habanero sauce, more tamarind liquid, or more orange marinade. If you make this ahead of time, you can reheat the pulled pork covered in the oven on the lowest heat to keep it warm. Serve over warm corn tortillas and any (or all!) of the side garnishes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Amy
  • melissav
  • AntoniaJames
  • Kelsey Banfield
    Kelsey Banfield
  • Food Blogga
    Food Blogga

10 Reviews

Amy August 28, 2016
I made the marinade and poured it over the pork in a crock pot and slow cooked on low for 12 hours. Delicious and very easy!
melissav April 16, 2010
The pork is in the fridge marinating for Sunday! Can't wait to try it!
AntoniaJames April 15, 2010
As noted in my review, we did not stir the sauce into the pulled pork, as the pan drippings themselves were so tasty, and the meat was so moist! We had the leftover roast pork the next day, and the day after that, for sandwiches. So scrumptious. One other thing to mention is that tamarind varies in its strength; like many very tart flavors, it can make the food in which it's used taste more salty or less salty. That's why I recommend that you go easy on the salt on the first round. You can always add salt, but you can never subtract it. ;o)
NakedBeet April 15, 2010
Thanks for testing this Antonia, so glad you and your family enjoyed it! And yes, I highly recommend the tamarind paste from the solid blocks you might find in an Indian or ethnic food store.
Kelsey B. April 1, 2010
Mmm, great flavors! I agree, these are just the ticket for bad weather cooking!
Food B. March 29, 2010
What a refreshing combination of flavors. These would be perfect with some plantains and sangria for dinner.
AntoniaJames April 15, 2010
This is such a good idea!! Plantains would balance the tart-citrusy sauce perfectly. Mmmmm. ;o)
testkitchenette March 29, 2010
I love these flavors together! We in NY are getting so tired of this crazy weather Mother Nature is throwing us...this at least makes me THINK I am in warmer weather! On the ever growing list to make very soon
TheWimpyVegetarian March 29, 2010
I love tamarind paste and use it as a base for a basting sauce for turkey at Thanksgiving. I love your use of it in this recipe. It sounds perfect with the flavors.
Loves F. March 29, 2010
Yes, please!