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Tacos al pastor

Learn how to make Mexican Al Pastor Tacos at home. Tacos Al Pastor is a classic north Mexican pork dish from Puebla roasted on a spit with a pineapple.
Course Entree
Cuisine Mexican
Level Intermediate
Main Ingredient Pork
Diet Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb

Ingredients

  • 1.8 kilograms pork shoulder
  • 1/4 fresh pineapple (sliced into long 1/4" thick strips)

for marinade

  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 dried guajillo chile
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 Chipotle chile (from can with adobo sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from Chipotle chilies)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon achiote paste (or 1/2 teaspoon paprika)

for serving

  • corn tortillas
  • 1/2 vidalia onion minced
  • cilantro minced
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 1 batch salsa verde (see recipe below)

for salsa verde

  • 4 large tomatillos (or 6 smaller ones husked and washed well with warm water)
  • 1/2 onion sliced into wedges
  • 4 jalapeno peppers (sliced in half lengthwise)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (about 4 sprigs)
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the pork in the freezer until its firm enough to cut (about 30 minutes).
  2. Remove the seeds and stems from the chilies and put them in a bowl. Boil some water and pour it onto the chilies and allow them to rehydrate (about 10 minutes). Put the chilies in a food processor along with all the other marinade ingredients and process until smooth. Add the marinade to a pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. This destroys some of the enzymes in fresh pineapple that can turn your meat into mush. Turn off the heat then let the marinade cool to room temperature.
  3. Take the roast out of the freezer and orient the roast how you'd have it sitting in the roasting pan (fat side up). The idea here is that you want to slice the meat into 1/2" thick slices that will stack on top of each other in the roasting pan. I don't slice all the way through which helps when you're trying to put the roast back together.
  4. Slather the marinade between each layer until every nook and cranny is covered. Tie the roast back together. Cover it and allow it to marinade for no more than an hour. Fresh pineapple has a powerful enzyme that breaks down proteins and while heating it destroys some of the enzymes, it's still a powerful meat tenderizer. If you're using canned pineapple let it marinate overnight as most of the enzyme is destroyed in the canning process.
  5. When the roast is ready to go in the oven, set the oven to 450 degrees F. Put the roast on a rack in a roasting pan and add water to the bottom of the pan (this is to keep the drippings from smoking). Roast for 30 minutes at this temperature then place the pineapple slices on top of the roast and turn down the heat to 300 degrees F. Roast until the meat is tender (about 3 hours).
  6. After removing the meat from the oven, cover it with foil and let it rest for about 20 minutes. When you're ready to serve, just cut the meat up into small cubes. I like to pan fry it at this point to give the pieces a bit more caramelization but it's up to you.
  7. To assemble the tacos just heat up a pile of tortilla's in the microwave covered with a damp paper towel for about 30 seconds. Using 2 tortilla's per taco, fill with meat, then top with minced onions, cilantro and salsa verde. Serve with a wedge of lime for squeezing.
  8. For Salsa Verde
  9. Move your oven rack to the top position and lay down a piece of foil. Score the bottoms of the tomatillos (so they don't explode) then place them on the foil. Place the jalepenos skin side up around the tomatillos along with the onions and garlic. Turn the broiler on and allow everything to get a nice bubbly char going on. Using tongs, flip things over and then char the other side. The smaller items like onion and garlic may need to come out first.
  10. Flake off any excess char (you want to keep some of it) then toss everything in a food processor along with the cilantro and salt and pepper. Process until smooth.