Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Tacos
I love any kind of food that gives you multiple flavors and textures in a single bite: casseroles, sandwiches, a well-composed salad or, in this case, a freaking taco, man. But not just any taco. Today we’re making Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Tacos because, yeah, we’re fancy, but sometimes we’re also tired and a good slow cooker recipe can wrap up a day perfectly. There’s nothing better than remembering halfway through the day that your dinner is already being made and that the hard part of it is behind you. Unless you decide to make the optional Blue Corn Tortillas included after the pork recipe… then the hard part is still ahead of you.
This Cuban-style pork is heavy on the citrus, using an entire grapefruit and one of its lime buddies for an acid kick that lends flavor and tenderness to the meat. And don’t forget the 8 garlic cloves in there as well! The flavor of the pork will holds its own against just about any topping you want to add, including Adobo Chile Aioli. (Aioli just means “fancy mayonnaise,” right?)
The thing I struggle with the most when I’m making such a flavorsome and showstopping main is deciding what to pair it with. I’m not well-versed in traditional Cuban fare, so I usually go with a nice Cilantro Lime Rice and/or Spicy Black Beans. You also get the joy of toppings aplenty with these tacos, so go crazy! Pictured above, I’ve used feta cheese (cojita might be more authentic, if that’s what flips your pancake), limes (ALL THE LIMES IN THIS MEAL, AMIRITE), chopped cilantro, diced jalapeno, and Adobo Chile Aioli.
I made Blue Corn Tortillas from scratch, but I was nervous and experiencing a crisis of self-confidence, so I grabbed some pre-made tortillas from the grocery store at the last minute. They weren’t necessary because none of my dinner party guests even touched the store-bought ones. So, Ashley 1, Self-Doubt 0, on that account, I guess. Don’t feel pressured to make your own tortillas. I wanted to do it because my friend brought me some blue corn meal back from a trip she took to New Mexico. This can be a super chill meal with some slow-cooked meat and chopped veggie toppings. It’s your canvas, Picasso, paint whatever you want.
Slow Cooker Cuban Pork
- 8 garlic cloves
- Juice of 1 grapefruit
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 4- to 5-lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2 pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- Optional toppings: cilantro, lime wedges, hot sauce, Adobo Chile Aioli, tortillas, salsa
- In a food processor, combine the garlic, grapefruit juice, lime zest and juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, brown sugar, oregano, cumin, and salt. Pulse until well blended. Transfer to the slow cooker and add the bay leaf.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Cook the pork pieces until they are seared well on all sides, about 12 minutes total.
- Place the pork pieces in the slow cooker with the marinade. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker and shred it. You can return the pork to the slow cooker at this point, or you can pour the marinade into a pot and reduce it a little on the stove. Either way, leave the pork in the marinade and keep it warm until you’re ready to serve.
Bonus Recipe: Blue Corn Tortillas
- 1 1/2 cups blue corn meal
- 2 cups boiling water
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp pepper (preferably white, but black pepper works, too)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- cooking spray
- Combine the all-purpose flour and spices in a bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the blue corn meal and mix together. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Once the corn meal mixture has cooled, use well-floured hands to work the flour and spices in the corn meal. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a well-floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. The dough will be very sticky, so keep a lot of flour nearby to cover your hands and work surface with.
- Cut the dough into 8 even pieces and cover each with flour.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat and oil it well. One at a time, roll each dough ball out into a flat circle and place it into the pan. Use a well-greased spatula to pressed down on the tortilla and keep it flat. Cook for at least 2 minutes per side or until the surface of the tortilla has dark brown spots all over it. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.