This recipe for al pastor is a home cook’s version of those delicious street tacos you will find through out Mexico. 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 al pastor taco!
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 today’s 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.
Tacos Con Sabor Al Pastor
- 3 pounds pork butt fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces (boneless pork)
- 1 tablespoon chile ancho powder
- 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoons oregano crushed
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 4 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
For Al Pastor Marinade
- 2 oz achiote paste
- 4 chile guajillo stems and seeds removed
- 2 chile ancho stems and seeds removed
- 2 chipotles in adobo optional
- 1 medium white onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder, optional
- 1 cup canned pineapple juice OPTIONAL!
- 3-4 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
You will also need
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple to be added later
- 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 a lot of flavor.
- If you choose to marinate the pork overnight with the chile sauce, DO NOT add any fresh 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.
- Transfer the dried peppers to a sauce pan of boiling water. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, set aside. Once chiles are soft and slightly cool, combine all of the ingredients(see list above) for the marinade into the blender. Blend on high until smooth, taste for salt.
- 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 sauteed pineapple, salsa verde, diced onions,cilantro and lime.
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~ 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.