Southwest Carnitas Tacos

beef & pork

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Southwestern Carnitas Tacos Serves 4
Braising a roast is a wonderful way to prepare a one-pot dinner that can be used for more than one meal. This recipe is for pork carnitas, which are moist, tender and very flavorful. I’ve then used the pork to make delicious, dressed up tacos. I love the addition of the roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed corn to increase the vegetable components of the meal. The roasted sweet potato has a wonderful, caramel flavor and the corn provides a hint of sweetness to counter the spice of the roast. Of course, you can vary the taco toppings to whatever suits your taste – or based on what is available in your refrigerator.

The Southwest Spice Mix is a tasty blend that I always keep on hand. We love spicy dishes in our home so I love the chipotle chili powder – which is smoky and a bit spicier than traditional chili powder. If you don’t like things quite as spicy, then just decrease the amount of chipotle chili powder you add to your blend. If you like, you can double, triple or quadruple this recipe so you keep a bit on hand to add to chile or on any grilled or roasted meat or vegetables.

Southwest Spice Mix
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
2 Tablespoons Chipotle Chili Powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

You could also substitute a beef roast for the pork roast if you like.

For the Roast
2# pork sirloin roast
1-2 Tablespoons Southwest Spice Mix
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice
1 poblano pepper, medium dice, seeds discarded
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes – left whole
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken stock

For the Tacos
2 medium sweet potatoes, small dice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
2 ears corn, removed from the cob
1 Tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
Sour cream
8 Corn tortillas – warmed in the oven or in the microwave oven

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. Coat the roast with the Southwest Spice Mix. Heat a 3-quart cast iron enameled Dutch oven with a lid. Add the olive oil and heat until the oil develops ripples across the surface – that’s when you know it’s hot and will provide a nice browning when the meat is added.

3. Add the roast, sear on all sides. Turn off the heat.

4. Add the onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic and chicken stock. Cover and place in a 300 degree oven. Braise for 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender.

5. Shred the meat, use a knife to cut across the grain of the meat. Combine with the braised vegetables and pan juices.

6. Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until soft and slightly caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.

7. Heat a skillet, add the butter, melt and then add the corn, salt and pepper. Saute about 3-4 minutes.

8. Assemble the tacos – lay out a corn tortilla, top with lettuce, about 2-3 Tablespoons meat, 1-2 Tablespoons sweet potato, 1-2 Tablespoon corn, sour cream, cilantro and garnish with lime wedges.

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