Tacos al Pastor Recipe
Image courtesy of Pure Pork Awesomeness: Totally Cookable Recipes from Around the Worldby Angie Mosier
What can you say about a chef who has a demonic-looking pig tattooed on his forearm? The dude loves swine. In homage to that porky amour, celebrated chef and restauranteur (Gunshow) Kevin Gillespie's book Pure Pork Awesomeness: Totally Cookable Recipes From Around the World celebrates pig in all its incarnations, sweet and savory, tip to tail. Gillespie's recipes are inspired by the cuisine of Greece, Italy, Korea, Austria and Mexico, as in this recipe for Tacos al Pastor.
In addition to his finesse in bringing home the bacon, Georgia-born Gillespie also knows a thing or two about fresh, organic ingredients. His recipe for Tacos al Pastor comes from a seminal experience in Mexico City trying the dish named for the missionaries—al pastor— who brought Middle Eastern ingredients like shawarma spit-grilled meat to Mexico. As Gillespie writes, "Like Bubba Gump, I have a million ways to cook pork because I love it so much."
Tacos al Pastor
Recipe from Pure Pork Awesomeness: Totally Cookable Recipes from Around the World by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim, Andrews McMeel Publishing.
- 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes, about 2 cups, or 1 (20-ounce) can unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained
- 1 medium Vidalia onion, cut into rough chunks
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 pound lean pork shoulder, cut into 3⁄4-inch chunks (see Worth Knowing)
- 3 teaspoons grapeseed oil or canola oil
- 8 fresh corn tortillas
- 1⁄2 cup sour cream
- 1 lime
- 1 bunch cilantro
Reserve 1⁄2 cup pineapple chunks and onion and refrigerate for later use. Combine the remaining pineapple, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes in a blender and blend to a paste. Place the meat and marinade in a gallon-size zip-top bag, squeeze out excess air, and zip closed. Refrigerate overnight.
Strain the pork and discard the marinade.
Heat a sauté pan over high heat. Add just enough of the oil to the pan for a thin coating and heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Working in batches, add the tortillas in a single layer and heat just until starting to char, about 1 minute per side, then flip and cook for another minute. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm.
Add just enough of the oil to cover the pan, swirl to coat, and heat until smoking. Add the pork and reserved pineapple and cook for 1 minute, or until browned. Shake the pan to flip the meat and cook until the pork is cooked through and the pan juices have cooked dry, about 7 minutes, shaking the pan frequently.
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream with the juice of 1⁄2 lime and whisk until smooth. Cut the remaining 1⁄2 lime into 4 wedges.
Coarsely chop 1⁄2 cup cilantro leaves. Reserve 4 sprigs.
Serve the tortillas topped with the meat and pineapple mixture, reserved pineapple and onion, chopped cilantro, a drizzle of the lime sour cream, a lime wedge, and whole sprig of cilantro.
Worth Knowing: Look for a lean shoulder roast for this recipe. It will be a piece of a boneless Boston butt. Get the smallest and leanest roast you can find, which will probably be 2 to 3 pounds. If you get a piece with excess fat, just trim it away before cutting the meat into chunks.