Meat Lite: Pinto and Pork Tacos

[Photograph: Joy Manning]

Almost every week when I do my grocery shopping at Whole Foods, I marvel at how little I spent. I guess that's because I'm constantly hearing people complain about the prices at "Whole Paycheck," as it is dubbed. I believe the secret to my savings is recipes like this. I start with a big, inexpensive cut of meat and stretch it out over six or seven meals by combining the meat with legumes, veggies, and whole grains. Here, I tell you not just how to pull off a delicious taco night but how to stash the leftovers. I store the pork and beans separately to keep my options open for encore meals. I might turn the pintos into refried beans or toss the pork with homemade barbecue sauce for a sandwich.

About the author: Joy Manning is the restaurant critic at Philadelphia Magazine. She blogs at Oyster Evangelist.

Meat Lite: Pinto and Pork Tacos

About This Recipe

Yield:makes 8 tacos


  • 3 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 10 or 12 pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup dried pinto beans
  • 3 cups water
  • 8 corn tortillas, store bought or homemade
  • Lime wedges (for serving; optional)
  • Chopped red onion (for serving; optional)
  • Cilantro leaves (for serving; optional)
  • Minced jalapeño (for serving; optional)
  • Guacamole (for serving; optional)


  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 250°F. Season the pork pieces with the salt, cumin, cayenne, and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the pork pieces, about 3 minutes a side. Remove the browned pork; set aside.

  2. 2

    Add the pinto beans and water to the Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Boil beans vigorously for about a minute, then kill the heat and add the pork pieces back to the pan. Put a lid on the Dutch oven; transfer it to the oven. Braise until the pork and beans are both very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Let cool before removing and shredding the pork and straining out the beans. The liquid can be discarded or frozen for a future soup base.

  3. 3

    Depending on your pork, you will have about 28 ounces (about 7 cups) pulled pork. You will have about 3 cups of cooked beans; stash 2 cups of beans in a container and freeze. Store 6 cups of the pork in 2-cup containers and freeze, reserving 1 cup of pork and 1 cup of beans for the tacos.

  4. 4

    Combine the pork and pinto beans for your taco filling, and serve with warmed tortillas, lime wedges, chopped red onion, cilantro leaves, minced jalapeño, guacamole, and anything else you like on your tacos.


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