sweet and smoky pork tacos-11 square Tacos are one of our family’s favorite meals. All sorts of tacos. If someone’s low-carbing, they can leave off the tortilla, if someone doesn’t like tomatoes, it’s not a big deal to leave them out, if someone only eats peanut butter sandwiches and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, there are fewer tears involved than usual (I say that in jest…my kids are getting better…usually. Two steps forward, one step back, right?)

These tacos from Cooking Light were kind of funny because they had a grown-up element with the cinnamon, cumin, and chipotle chili powder, which, when combined with the brown sugar and orange juice, gave them a really nice, sweet heat. But, the orange juice and brown sugar also kind of made them like taco-y sloppy joes (Sloppy Josés?), which was very appealing to my children. They also had a sweet, tangy, crunchy slaw made from jicama and carrots, but my kids opted out of that in favor of sour cream, guacamole, and cheese, so, you know, there are options.

I’ve made this recipe a few times and it’s never come together as quickly as it says it does. And the ingredients list is a little daunting. But. A lot of the prep work can be done ahead of time–if you measure out spices and chop veggies here and there when you have a few minutes, it won’t feel nearly as overwhelming when dinnertime rolls around.

Chop a small onion and a tablespoon of garlic.

onions and garlic

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add chopped onions and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly and being careful not to scorch the garlic. Add some tomato paste, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, and chipotle chili powder.

tomato paste and brown sugar

Increase the heat to medium-high. Slice a pork tenderloin into 2″ pieces

sliced pork tenderloin

and add it to the skillet. Stir quickly to coat in seasonings and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked about 75% of the way through.

Add chicken broth and 1 cup of orange juice,

broth and orange juice

stir to combine ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until the pork shreds easily with two forks and the sauce is reduced and is thick and syrupy (if the sauce is reduced but the pork still isn’t quite tender enough, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot and simmer until desired tenderness is reached.)

While the pork is cooking, whisk together the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons orange juice, lime juice, honey, salt, and pepper.

slaw dressing

Set aside. Grate the carrots and jicama or shave them with a cheese slicer. Place them in a bowl with the cilantro

jicama and carrot slaw

and toss to combine.

carrot and jicama slaw

Drizzle with the orange juice/honey mixture and toss to combine.

When ready to serve, season the pork with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the pork into warm corn tortillas

Sweet and Smoky Chipotle pork tacos

and add the jicama/carrot slaw (my kids went for sliced onions, sour cream, and cheese, but I was cool with it–as long as they’re eating some form of the dinner I made, I’m good.) Makes 8 tacos.

Sweet and Smokey Chipotle Pork Tacos



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