Tacos al Pastor, a beautiful combination of rustic chile pepper heat, sweet pineapple and savory grilled pork steak. A taco that will win your heart for life.
It seems like Tacos al Pastor are everywhere lately…my favorite little taco joint here in Denver has them on the menu…Rick Bayless sent over a recipe via his newsletter.
Food and Wine Magazine talked about them in their taco truck article.
Gourmet Magazine referenced another Denver Mexican restaurant with Tacos al Pastor as a “must order”. So it seemed like this was a “must make” for me.
I mean really, who can resist grilled pork shoulder steaks slathered in a Mexican Red Sauce served on steamy corn tortillas topped with sweet grilled pineapple and caramelized onions.
I read that al pastor is a dish developed in Northern Mexico where a pig is slow roasted in an outdoor spit for two days.
I’m assuming that an in-ground outdoor backyard spit smoldering a whole pig is against covenants in Highlands Ranch, so the trusty Weber grill will work just fine. Let’s get started.
For my red sauce I used some mild and earthy flavored dried red peppers as my base. Guajillo peppers are a popular choice and readily available on the Mexican aisle in your grocery store.
The Guajillo pepper is a dried Mirasol Chile Pepper which is a chile pepper commonly grown in Southern Colorado.
I also like to use a combo of Guajillo and Pasilla chile peppers. The Pasilla are spicier and darker in color. This will make the sauce even a deeper earthier red. Let’s take a look.
You’ll use your food processor, or blender to puree softened dried chile peppers and spices into this luscious red chile paste.
With a very large knife, slice the pork shoulder into steaks, about 3/4 inch wide and place in a platter so you can marinate them. A large zip lock plastic bag would also work. If the pork is slightly frozen, it will be easier to cut. And if the pork roast is too large, slice in half vertically and cut the steaks from the two pieces.
Slather those pork steaks with the red chile paste. Use either a spatula or a basting brush to get the marinade evenly distributed.
Once the pork steaks are grilled, let them rest for a few minutes under foil. Stack three of the steaks on a cutting board, with the grain of the meat all running the same direction.
With a very sharp knife, slice the steaks very thin, across the grain. Tip from cooking school: A sharp serrated knife works well for slicing meat very thin.
To Build Those Tacos Al Pastor
Warm the corn tortillas. Place slices of pork on the tortillas and sprinkle on pieces of the grilled pineapple and onions. Add some chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges. Some chopped avocado would work well here.
Recipe for Tacos Al Pastor
I hope you give these pork tacos a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating and leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you already make tacos al pastor, and have some tasty topping ideas, let me know.
Tacos Al Pastor Made With Grilled Pork Steaks
- 6 dried chile peppers I used 3 Guajillo and 3 Pasilla. Pasilla are hot
- 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce seeds and veins removed
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano Preferrably Mexican Oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), sliced ¾" thick
- 6 rings Fresh pineapple cut into chunks
- 2 sweet onions sliced
- 16 Corn tortillas
- cilantro and avocado chopped for serving
- Stem and seed the dried chiles and place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with water and microwave at high power until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Let cool slightly, then drain and transfer to a food processor. Add the chipotle chilis, orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, anise seeds, oregano, cumin, ground cloves, sugar and garlic powder. Blend until smooth.
- Transfer the marinade to a saucepan. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until very thick, about 5 minutes; let cool.
- Cut the pork roast into 3/4 inch slices. Arrange slices into an oven proof baking dish. A 9/13 Pyrex pan works good here.
- Slather those pork steaks with the red chile paste. Use either a spatula or a basting brush to get the marinade evenly distributed.
- Cover and chill 3 – 12 hours.
- Preheat grill to 500 degrees, then lower to 350. Remove pork from marinade and grill pork steaks about 12 minutes per side. Grill pineapple and onion rings until caramelized, turning to cook on each side.
- Transfer pork onions and pineapple to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes, tented.
- Stack three of the steaks on a cutting board, with the grain of the meat all running the same direction.
- With a very sharp knife, slice the steaks very thin, across the grain. Tip from cooking school: A sharp serrated knife works well for slicing meat very thin. Chop the onions and pineapple.
- Warm the corn tortillas. Place slices of pork on the tortillas and sprinkle on pieces of the grilled pineapple and onions. Add some chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges. Some chopped avocado would work well here.
Tacos al Pastor…It’s What’s For Dinner.