The flavors of chile and sweet fruit are something I am very familiar with. I grew up enjoying fresh fruits, such as pineapple, mango, jicama and papaya seasoned with fresh lime juice and spicy chile powders. The combination of the the sweet/tart pineapple, chiles and pork make for a very delicious dish! Traditionally tacos al pastor are assembled and layered on a large vertical spit with pineapple and onion slices. The spit rotates and searing the marinated pork on all sides as it turns. It is thinly sliced off the “trompo” and served in warm corn tortillas, typically garnished with a chile de arbol salsa, cilantro, onion and lime. For todays post I am preparing a stove top guisado of al pastor. The flavors intensify and the pork will become extra tender as it simmers low and slow. Check out the end of this blog post for a fun and delicious fact about quesadillas in Mexico.
Yields 8 servings
3 pounds pork butt, fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces (boneless pork)
1 tablespoon chile ancho powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
For Chile Sauce(Recado)
2 oz achiote paste
4 chile ancho or 6 guajillo, stems and seeds removed
2 chipotles in adobo, optional
1 medium white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (powder) or kosher salt to taste
1 cup pineapple juice
3 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
You will also need
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 more cup finely diced fresh pineapple to be added later
1. Combine all the dry spices and season the pork evenly. In a large pan, heat the oil to medium/high heat, add the seasoned pork to the hot oil, and cook until all sides of the meat are seared well. . I think that searing the pork just with the spices add alot of flavor. If you choose to marinate the pork overnight with the chile sauce, DO NOT add the pineapple when blending the sauce. The pineapple will break down the meat giving it a chalky texture when cooked. I learned this the hard way.
2. Transfer the dried peppers to a glass bowl, cover with water and cook in the microwave 6 to 7 minutes. Or you can add the chiles to a sauce pan of boiling water. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, set aside. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce into the blender. Drain the chiles and add them as well. Blend on high until smooth, taste for salt.
3. Add the reserved cup of fresh pineapple and sauce from the blender to the pork, stir well to combine. Add in the chicken broth. Stir to combine. Once it come to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook, stirring often, for a good 2 to 2½ hours or until pork is tender. Taste for salt and add a little water if it gets too dry. Serve as-is, with rice and beans, and warm tortillas. If preparing tacos, I like to chop the pork small and quickly sear it before serving. You can saute more fresh pineapple with the pork to warm, or on the side. Garnish with grilled or sauted pineapple, salsa, diced onions,cilantro and lime. Yields 8 servings.
Tips~ One of the best tips! Pork butt/shoulder too big to handle? Purchase some boneless country style ribs or pork tips for this recipe. I substitute them all the time.
Tips~ If you cannot find the achiote paste, the annatto powder is more available in the markets with a larger Hispanic selection. Add 2 tablespoons of powder to replace the paste
Tips~ Canned pineapple will not give you the same results, trust me. Go with the fresh!
Tips~ You need a generous amount of liquid/sauce for the pork to braise in while it cooks and tenderizes. I like to remove the excess sauce from the pork and serve it on the side when serving tacos.
Tips~ I let my pork cool completely and then chill it overnight. The next day, I take out only what I will need and slice it while it’s cold. Heat in nonstick pan with just a touch of oil until warm. Ready for tacos! This is the pork after I sliced it.
Tips~ The pork only becomes more flavorful the longer it sits. Freezes well!
There is nothing like a homemade corn tortilla when you go through all that effort to create some authentic flavors.
Cebollas en Escabeche(Quick Pickled Sweet Onions), 1 sweet onion, diced. Equal parts white vinegar and water to cover onions. Pinch of Mexican oregano and chile piquin. Salt to taste. Cover and let sit for at least one hour or more before serving.
Some Fun Facts About Quesadillas~
Early 70’s, Mexico City….American female college student frequents a popular taqueria famous for it’s Al Pastor tacos. She makes a special request and asks if she could have the al pastor, but in the whiter looking tortilla(made of flour) with extra cheese! The regular Mexican patrons loved this idea of flavors and demanded them as well. Hence the Quesadilla “Gringa” was born. Gringa in reference to the American girl and the white color of the flour tortilla.
You Will Need
Pork al pastor, chopped small (previously cooked)
Oaxaca cheese, shredded
Tips~ I used a combo of mozzarella string cheese and muenster cheese for a good melt…no Oaxaca available lately. I chose not to add any extra pineappleto the quesadilla.
Brush tortillas with olive oil (or not) and place in preheated nonstick pan. Add a generous amount of shredded cheese, and hearty layer of al pastor, more cheese and top with a tortilla. Brush top of tortilla with more oil. Cover pan, this will help steam andmelt the cheese faster. When crisp and golden on the bottom, flip and cook until other side is golden. Serve with tomatillo/avocado salsa.
And also….Another story was that the spots on the flour tortillas resembled freckles and they associated this with an American girl. I kinda like both stories…. p.s. you can find all these recipes individually on my blog.