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Pork Al Pastor Taco
A few weeks ago, my husband asked me to cook this special taco for lunch. There are many ways of making tacos but Pork Al Pastor Taco is his favorite. It is so different from a normal taco. Taco Al Pastor is spicy split-grilled pork that has been marinated with pineapples for a long time. The pineapple adds sweetness and acidity, and also has an enzyme (bromelain) that breaks down proteins making the pork very tender and a earthy-smokey flavor coming from the various chilies in the marinade sauce. It is cubed and served on a corn taco tortilla topped with chopped onions and cilantro.
5-6 lbs pork butt roast
White corn taco tortillas
2 cups chopped cilantro, include stems
2 cups diced yellow onions
2-3 limes, cut into wedges
Verde or Red Salsa (Hot-mild)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 guajillo chilies, seeds removed and soak in hot water
3 ancho chilies, seeds removed and soak in hot water
2 chipotle chilies in Adobo Sauce, drained & reserved 1½ tablespoons Adobo Sauce
7 cloves garlic
1¼ cup fresh pineapple cubes
1/3 pineapple (from a whole pineapple), skin and eyes removed, sliced into ¼ inch long and thick strips
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon achiote paste or 1 teaspoon chili powder
1½ tablespoons vinegar
1¼ tablespoons salt
¾ teaspoon oregano
Chill the pork butt in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to firm the meat and cut ½ inch thick without cutting all the way through (so to hold the pork butt together) and transfer the pork butt roast onto the roasting pan with the fat side up. Set aside.
Place the softened guajillo chilies, ancho chilies, chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, garlic, pineapple cubes, cinnamon powder, achiote paste (or chili powder), vinegar, salt and oregano into a food processor and grind into a smooth paste. Transfer the chili mixture into a saucepan and heat over medium heat and cook for 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°F.
Spread the marinade mixture on top of the pork butt, between each layer and until all the meat are completely covered. Take some twines and tie the marinated pork butt roast back together. Return to the roasting pan and place on a rack, cover and marinade for 35-40 minutes. (If using fresh pineapple, the enzyme is a naturally powerful meat tenderizer.) If using canned pineapple the enzyme is destroyed and the marinating process need a longer time.
Transfer the roasting pan to the preheat oven and add some water to the bottom of the pan (to prevent the drippings from smoking). Bake for 25-30 minutes and then place the fresh pineapple slices on top of the marinated pork butt roast, reduce the oven heat to 325°F for about 3 hours or until the meat is tender. Remove and cover with foil and set aside to stand for 15-20 minutes. Once it is easy to handle, cut the meat up into small cubes. Heat a fry-pan and sauté until slightly caramelize. This stage is an option.
To serve this taco…warm up the white corn tortillas on the pan or microwave. Place two warm tortillas on top of each other, fill pork al pastor onto the tortilla, top a teaspoon diced onions, chopped cilantro and salsa of your choice or on the side; and serve with Mexican rice, refried bean or black bean and avocado slices and a couple of lime wedges.