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. If you’re looking for a pork shoulder steak recipe, these tacos are the deal.
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.
Tip: 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 culinary 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. It’s a great pork should steak recipe.
And if you already make tacos al pastor, and have some tasty topping ideas, let me know.
And you won’t want to miss the most popular Mexican pork recipe on my site for Hatch Green Chile. Check out my Mexican/Southwestern category for a ton of delicious ideas.
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.
Wow, I have never heard of that recipe before, I am dying to try it, all my favorite flavors!
Wow, these tacos look awesome, and sure I can have at anytime…great pictures!
Zia Liz says
I’m really intrigued by the sauce with cola in it! I’m also delighted because there is no tomato in it. I’m definitely going to have to try this one!
I didn’t even think about the lack of tomato! You should google it and take a look at a few different sauce recipes. I think this was a combination of three different recipes. 🙂
Great looking recipe! Very tasty sounding rojo sauce. I’ll have to give it a try on the BGE. Last time I had tacos al pastor they were being carved from a trompo bigger than me at the Carnaval in Cozumel.
waaa….I want tacos al pastor carved from a trompo bigger than you at the Carnaval in Cozumel. 🙂 Would love to try the real deal.
🙂 We watched these guys loading pork onto the spit all morning and knew we had to come back later when it was ready. But I’m thinking the crockpot approach is sure a lot more feasible.
How can you go wrong with slow roasted pork! Your sauce really puts this over the top. I’m thinking this is going to be a wonderful additon to our tailgating!
mmmm this would be good tailgating food.
Those would be perfect to eat while watching a football game.
Julie M. says
You’re killing me over here! Our Mexican and Tex/Mex in Charlotte is non existent. This looks like something I’d find back in my old stomping grounds in Texas. I will definitely be trying this one. Yum yum yum!!
I’m definitely feeling your pain over no Mexican. We only have a handful of restaurants who serve some authentic Mexican dishes. SO good.
The tacos look great. I’ve never heard of Tacos Pastor. They sound really tasty!
OMG these tacos look fabulous! I really like the sauce that you made for these tacos too. I must be hiding in the sand as I have not heard yet about the Tacos Pastor. of course, I have read your post and will suddenly see it everywhere.
Thanks for sharing this great recipe.
That’s exactly how it works Velva…selective perception.
I’ve not heard of these, but they sound interesting – especially as I try to move beyond my paradigms of what flavors go together and I believe I have some pulled pork in the freezer. Also I’m always on the hunt for a new red sauce.
That red sauce is pretty strong…I’d be careful what I paired it with.
I agree w/ Vickie, dig the pit and do some goats and pigs. Yaks too. I’ve heard that the Highlands Ranch arial surveillance cameras will bipass Yak roasting in backyard pits if those new outdoor wood-fire dissipation filters have been installed , because apparently it’s become trendy to have gourmet yak feasts in these upscale suburbs…
That “Mexican joint at 7th and Santa Fe” makes tacos every known way on the planet. And with every known meat or other animal body part. The place rules.
Your recipe looks absolutely splended. 1/4 cup Cocal Cola…I’m in.
We need to quit talking about that “Mexican joint at 7th and Santa Fe” and GO!
My Carolina Kitchen says
Wow, these look and sound wonderful. You’re making me hungry for tacos and it’s only breakfast time here. Come to think of it, why not tacos for breakfast?
I have made breakfast tacos before…and blogged it. Delicious. Thanks for stopping by Sam
My Kitchen in the Rockies says
Are those HOA rules in Highlands Ranch interfering with your dinner plans? Unbelievable!
What a wonderful recipe. I know that my family would love this. Thanks for sharing.
Yes they are! Think I’ll move south! 🙂
Tacos al pastor has to be one of my favorite pork dishes. Ever. It’s just so mindblowingly tasty! I love the sauce you’ve put on it.
I love your red sauce recipe!
That red sauce was pretty pungent. Not sure how it would be in another recipe, and certainly odd on a stand alone basis.
I can’t even imagine the results of combining those seasonings – sounds like a unique taste experience. I like that. I’d also like to see you being a rebel, digging a pit with a spit and trying the pig thingie. C’mon, you know you’re tempted. 😀
I also want a goat, think they’d notice?
Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle says
Oh my…have not heard of them either or in truth had to have missed them cause we have some very similar subscriptions.
When are you gonna get on Twitter with me…so you can see I tweeted this to the world; well, my little corner of it anyhow. These look amazing. Won’t you be my neighbor?
Yolandas (Dayton and Arapahoe) has al Pastor, Mexican joint at 7th and Santa Fe was mentioned in an old issue of Gourmet. Thanks for the tweet Barb.
Muy Ricos!!! Can I come over for dinner!!?? Awesome tacos, looooove el pastor 😉
C’mon over Heather – you’re always welcome.
Year on the Grill says
Oh My… they may be everywhere except on the islands… First time hearing about them, but i have some pork shoulder coming my way soon, and these sound like terrific left over fare
I don’t see why some of that mango glaze stuff wouldn’t work on tacos and pork. I’m loving that stuff over at your place.