Citrus Braised Pork Tacos

Citrus-Braised Pork Tacos

Shannon Freise
These tacos contain a rich filling inspired by cochinita pibil, a popular Mexican dish from the Yucatán Peninsula that features incredibly tender slow-roasted pork.
Pork butt roast is often labeled Boston butt in the supermarket. For a spicier sauce, add an extra habanero or two; if you are spice-averse, substitute less-spicy jalapeños for the habaneros.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6


  • Dutch Oven
  • Potato Masher


Pickled Onions

  • 1 Cup White vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is okay to use.
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt

Habanero Sauce

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Carrot-peeled and chopped
  • 1 Vine-ripened tomato. Cored and chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped onion
  • 1/2-1 Habanero Pepper. Scotch Bonnet also works well, just less.
  • 1 Garlic Clove peeled and smashed
  • 1 TBSP Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TSP Fresh Lime juice plus lime wedges for serving
  • 18 Flour 6 inch Tortillas
  • DASH Salt and pepper

For the Pork:

  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced.
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/3 Cup Tomato Paste
  • 1 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Frozen Orange Juice concentrate
  • 3 TBSP Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 5 Bay Leaves
  • Dash Salt and Pepper
  • 1 2 1/2-3 LB Boneless Boston Butt. Bone-in Works since you're dicing the meat into cubes before cooking. Be sure to trim off excess fat, leaving just a tiny amount.


  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Add garlic, cumin, oregano, ­allspice, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste begins to darken, about 45 seconds. Stir in water, orange juice concentrate, 2 tablespoons vinegar, Worcestershire, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits.
  • Add pork and bring to boil. Transfer to oven, uncovered, and cook until pork is tender, about 2 hours, ­stirring once halfway through cooking.
  • While your roast is in the oven, prepare the pickled onions. Then while they are resting, start your Habanero Sauce. Both of these are quick prepare items.
  • Transfer pot to stovetop; discard bay leaves. Using potato masher, mash pork until finely shredded. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until most of liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Off heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on tortillas with pickled red onions, habanero sauce, and lime wedges.


  • Meanwhile, place onion in medium bowl. Bring vinegar, sugar, and salt to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Pour over onions and cover loosely. Let onions cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Onions can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)


  • Combine water, carrot, tomato, onion, habanero, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in now-empty saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat and cook until carrot is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let carrot mixture cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer carrot mixture to blender, add vinegar and lime juice, and process until sauce is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)


Wine Recommendations for pork tacos, would be a dry rose, dry Riesling, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc are some I’d serve with this dish. Always remember the spicier the food, the colder and sweeter the wine should be. Also, lower alcohol wines and moderate tannins dissolve the burning sensation of capsicum. 

This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. 
Keyword Pork Tacos
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