Celebrate Cinco de Mayo With Pork Tacos, California-Style

April 30, 2021 Updated: April 30, 2021

Do you know the meaning of Cinco de Mayo? It’s a holiday that commemorates when the Mexican army defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla against overwhelming odds in 1862. Puebla and many U.S. cities have huge celebrations with parades, festivals, and dancing. And, of course, food!

Each year I observe this holiday with an array of fabulous Mexican food, such as these citrus-marinated pork tacos enhanced with side dishes of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. The marinade brings out the sweetness of the pork along with a zesty touch of oregano and cumin. They are always a major crowd-pleaser.

In California, you can find every type of taco imaginable, including turkey, duck, filet of beef—even sweetbreads. Pork tacos are my favorite. The distinctive arrangement of the ingredients on the plate is characteristically Californian.

Marinated grilled pork is cut into bite-size pieces and, along with guacamole, sour cream, grilled green onions, cilantro, and salsas, is arranged colorfully and artistically. The fresh corn tortillas are soft, so they can be rolled with the filling ingredients inside. The meat is best when grilled but it can also be roasted.

Although beer and margaritas work well, a crisp fume blanc is also refreshing.

Pork Tacos, California-Style

Serves 6

For the Marinade

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper

For the Tacos

  • 2 pounds eye of loin of pork
  • 6 scallions
  • 12 small fresh corn tortillas
  • 1 bunch cilantro, large stems removed
  • 1 cup guacamole
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup favorite tomato salsa like pico de gallo
  • 1 cup tomatillo salsa

Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until blended.

Place the pork in a shallow non-aluminum dish and pour the marinade over. Marinate for 6 to 12 hours.

Cut through the green part of the scallions, making 2 slits all the way down to where the white part begins. This will give the scallions a fan shape.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the grill for medium-heat grilling.

Grill the pork about 3 inches from the flame for 20 to 25 minutes on each side, or until the interior temperature is 160 degrees F (test with a meat thermometer). Baste the scallions with marinade and grill about 3 minutes on each side. Remove the meat and scallions from the grill and cut the meat into small chunks.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm in oven for about 10 minutes. Keep warm.

On the outer edges of individual serving plates, arrange a few sprigs of cilantro, a large dollop of guacamole, and a large dollop of sour cream. Place 2 warmed tortillas on the side of each plate and arrange the meat and grilled scallions in the center. Pass both types of salsa in separate bowls. Serve immediately.

Advance Preparation: The dish may be prepared up to 4 hours ahead through the step of grilling the meat and scallions, and kept in the refrigerator. To reheat the meat, place in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Stir the meat to brown and heat through. Reheat the scallions in the hot skillet.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at SeriouslySimple.com. Copyright 2021 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.