Mexico City Tacos al Pastor

Tacos al Pastor is the ultimate Mexican street food. Vendors slice spicy slivers of pork and pineapple off a spinning vertical rotisserie right into soft corn tacos. The rotisserie is similar to the Middle Eastern shawarma and was actually introduced to Mexico City by Lebanese immigrants. In the same way Mexico City is a melting pot of different cultures from all around Mexico and the the world, this unique dish is a perfect combination of local flavors (pineapple, annatto, chiles, corn tacos), Spanish (pork, adobo) and the Middle East (shawarma). Like many dishes immigrants tried to recreate in their new country had be creatively adapted to use available local ingredients. Tacos al Pastor is one of these dishes; pork replaced lamb, pineapple replaced honey, and corn tacos replaced pita bread.

Tacos al Pastor

Imagine walking down the street in Mexico City and stopping by a Tacos al Pastor stand to have the vendor slice off hot, crispy slices of spicy-sweet pork for you. This recipe lets you come close to recreating that experience at home. Store-bought tacos are fine but homemade tortillas are even better. Serve with a salsa, chopped white onion, and cilantro, hot sauce, with lime wedges on the side.
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Course: Antijitos, Lunch, Main Course, Sandwich, Snack
Cuisine: Central Mexican, Mexican
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinate: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 12 Tacos
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large skillet
  • Blender
  • Medium nonstick pan

Ingredients

Adobo Marinade

  • 1 Dried guajillo chilies (or 2 ancho)
  • 2 Dried cascabel chilies
  • 1 Dried ancho chili (or 2 guajillo)
  • ¼ small White onion, chopped
  • 2 Plum tomatoes, halved and core removed
  • ¼ cup Vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp White vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Orange juice
  • 1 tbsp Lime juice
  • 3 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp Ground achiote seed
  • ¼ tsp Ground clove
  • ¼ tsp Ground cumin
  • ½ tsp Dried oregano
  • ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt

Taco Filling

  • 2 lb Pork shoulder or butt
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • cup Pineapple, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 12 Corn tortillas, preferably homemade
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • ½ medium White onion, diced
  • 1 cup Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Lime, cut into 8 wedges
  • Hot sauce

Instructions

Marinate Meat

  • Remove stem and seed dried peppers. Cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn heat off and let peppers soak for 15 minutes. Transfer them to a blender and reserve liquid.
  • Combine the rest of the adobo marinade ingredients in the blender. Add a few tbsp of the water that the chiles soaked in. Puree until smooth, adding a little more soaking water to loosen a little, if necessary. Set ½ cup aside for final cooking.
  • Thinly slice meat crosswise. Chop meat slices into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle salt over meat and place in a ziploc bag along with adobo marinade. Seal, massage, and place in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld for at least 2 hours and up-to 2 days.

Prepare Taco Filling

  • Make Tortillas – Heat oven to 225°F (105°C). Lightly dampen a kitchen towel. On a hot griddle or heavy skillet, warm homemade or store bought tortillas on both sides until hot and blistered. Transfer to the towel and wrap. When all 12-14 tortillas are done, place wrapped towel in oven to keep warm.
  • Cook Pineapple – Combine sugar and pineapple chunks in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir often until the sugar is melted and the pineapple is caramelized, about 5 minutes. Place in a serving bowl and cover.
  • Cook Meat – Bring meat to room temperature. Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Drain off excess liquid from meat and blot dry between layers of paper towels. Add oil to hot skillet and swirl to coat. Add 2 tbsp of reserved marinade. Add meat in a single layer. Let meat cook undisturbed over high heat until browned on the bottom. Stir and continue to cook until cooked through but still moist, about 5 minutes total. After about 3 minutes, stir in a 1-2 tbsp of reserved marinade if meat seems too dry. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Serve – Place covered tortillas in a basket and bring out along with bowls of hot meat, pineapple, salsa, chopped onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and hot sauce. Let diners assemble their own tacos with meat, pineapple, and whatever toppings they'd like.

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