Cuban Street Tacos

Last month my husband and I were down in Key West on vacation and had lunch at Bagatelle on Duval Street. There I had the most amazing Cuban Street Tacos I have ever tasted and I knew that I had to recreate them in my kitchen as soon as I got home. This recipe is a bit time-consuming but totally worth it in the end! The seasoned pork butt is slow roasted in a citrus marinade of lime and orange juices then removed from the pot to reduce and thicken the marinade into a thick, syrupy glaze. The glaze is then poured over the roasted pork and broiled until lightly crisped and caramelized. Served alongside Cuban Black Beans and Sangria, I felt like I was back in Key West sitting on the wrap around porch of Bagatelle feeling the tropical breezes blowing through my hair!

Cuban Street Tacos

Yield: 8 servings


1 (4-pound) boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
1 cup chicken 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 to 2 jalapeños, minced
1 onion, peeled and halved
juice of 1 lime
1 medium orange, halved and juice, rinds reserved
8 corn tortillas
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
2 limes, cut into wedges


Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and sear pieces on all sides. Once all the pork is seared and lightly browned, remove from the pot and place in a large bowl. Pour in water and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged spatula to release all the tasty brown bits. Add pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, jalapenos, onion, lime juice, orange juice and orange rinds and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add pork pieces and cover the pot and place it in the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour, take a peek and give the pot a stir to turn the meat. Put the lid back on and let it continue to bake in the oven for another hour.
After 2 hours of baking time, remove the pot from oven. Remove the bay leaves, onion and orange rinds from the pot and discard. Remove the pork and place in a large bowl; set aside. Place the pot on the stove top and let the remaining liquid come to a boil over high heat. Let it boil until it thickens up and is reduced to about 1 cup, about 10 -15 minutes.
Lower racks to near the bottom of the oven and turn oven to broil. In the bowl, pull each piece of pork in half using two forks. Pour the reduced liquid over the pork and add salt and pepper to taste; stir to combine. Place the coated pieces of pork on a wire cooling rack set on a baking sheet. Broil the meat for 5 to 8 minutes on each side until well browned. You can pull the pork further if you want and then serve immediately in warm tortillas. Garnish with red onion slices, cilantro, Monterey Jack cheese, and lime wedges.

Source: adapted from Joelen's Culinary Adventures, originally adapted from Cook's Illustrated, June 2008



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29 Responses to “Cuban Street Tacos”

  1. #
    Junia @ Mis Pensamientos — July 14, 2011 @ 11:35 am

    tacos look authentic and yummy, sweet pea! whenever i make tacos for ppl, it’s always beef or chicken. for some reason, i never thought about using pork! good suggestion. :)

  2. #
    Amy — July 14, 2011 @ 11:36 am

    this looks so succulent! I wish my bf liked pork. I’m totally craving good Mexican food now :)

  3. #
    Christina @ This Woman Cooks! — July 14, 2011 @ 11:42 am

    These sound, and look, awesome! Are you from Florida? I used to live in Miami. This would definitely bring me back home.

  4. #
    chicaandaluza — July 14, 2011 @ 11:57 am

    I´m not sure what pork butt is – but living in the land of pork, I´m sure I could adapt! This recipe sounds wonderful.

  5. #
    Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide — July 14, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

    Wow, these look so good. I love carnitas. I haven’t been to Florida in years, but whenever I watch Dexter, I want a pork sandwich. I know, odd show to make one hungry.

  6. #
    Kay aka Babygirl — July 14, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

    Wow, these Cuban Street Tacos.. I’d have to agree with Rufus up there lol. I love a good ol’ pork sandwich. I need to make me one this summer :).

  7. #
    Mandy @ Withmilkandflour — July 14, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    These pork tacos look so delicious, love black beans too. Great recipe!

  8. #
    The Teenage Taste — July 14, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    These look fabulous! That pulled pork looks so moist and saucy!

  9. #
    Caroline — July 14, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

    These tacos look delicious! I love recreating recipes, it’s so much fun, especially when you can make your own little tweaks. Yup, my stomach is growling now.

  10. #
    Carol Armour — July 14, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    I’m wondering if I could try using chicken instead of pork since my husband doesn’t eat pork?

    • Christina replied: — July 18th, 2011 @ 11:42 am

      I bet it would be delicious with shredded chicken! If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out! 😀

  11. #
    sarah — July 14, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

    I just cooked pork butt for the first time not too long ago and now i’m addicted! I love the citrus marinade- definitely bookmarking this one!

  12. #
    Nicole@HeatOvenTo350 — July 14, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

    Yum. I love all the spices in it and the touch of citrus juices. I can’t wait to try this.

  13. #
    mycamocoloredlife — July 14, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

    These look amazing! Thanks for sharing! I’m definitely pinning this!

  14. #
    Kara — July 14, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

    This is going on my “must make” list.

  15. #
    Maris(In Good Taste) — July 14, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

    They look well worth the time and effort!

  16. #
    muppy — July 14, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

    this looks delicious, i will have to try it.

  17. #
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — July 15, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    These tacos look amazing!

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  19. #
    Kevin (Closet Cooking) — July 30, 2011 @ 2:12 am

    Those tacos look and sound really good!

  20. #
    Carol — January 17, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

    Would this recipe translate well to a slow cooker?

    • Christina replied: — January 19th, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

      I have never made these in a slow cooker, but I don’t see why you couldn’t! If you give them a try I would love to hear how they turn out! :)

    • Paula Clark replied: — August 10th, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

      I made these tacos yesterday and they were a hit. What a wonderful recipe!! Worth the effort. Thank you :)

      • Christina replied: — August 11th, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

        I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the tacos! I need to make them again soon…my family loves them! :)

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  24. #
    Tara — September 30, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

    I just came upon this recipe and want to make it this week. Can’t wait to taste it! I have one question: did you just throw the entire squeezed orange halves into the Dutch oven, or did you peel just the orange part of the rind and put that in? I was worried that the white pith might make it bitter. . . just wanted to make sure I’m making the dish correctly! Thanks.

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