It’s probably not shocking to any of you that I made a Mexican dish for Cinco de Mayo. I mean, honestly, this should not come to you as a surprise. I make Mexican food any chance I get, so a holiday where it’s expected? Bring it!
You’ve seen tacos al pastor on this blog before, a few times. The photos are horrendous. Consider this a “photo makeover”. And, it’s a much better recipe. When I have a Mexican food craving, the first place I go for a recipe is to Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill and Top Chef Masters fame. So often, restaurant recipes are top secret, and we as diners are left to figure them out on our own. Chef Bayless just puts them out there. Some of the best tacos al pastor I’ve ever had were at Frontera Grill many many years ago, and he generously shares the recipe, plain as day, on his website.
The most interesting part about this taco recipe, at least in my food nerd opinion, is the use of achiote paste, or ground up annatto seeds. This ingredient can be a bit challenging to find, but I was lucky that my local international market has a plethora of packages. (Three Amigos? Anyone?)
The key, I think, is the truly super-hot grill. Sure, the marinade is important, but the same marinade with a not-so-hot grill, or a stovetop preparation would not bring out the delightful flavors present in the dish. I went a little overboard with the fire…
It did the trick though. The meat was perfectly charred and maintained its unique smoky flavor that only al pastor has. Not to mention the fact that it’s the reddest food I’ve ever cooked. Seriously, like, I didn’t know that there were things that were naturally this red. Combine that with the sweet flavor of the diced grilled pineapple and smoky-sweet grilled onions and we’ve got a perfect taco.
Ok, I’ll stop gushing about the recipe and just share it already.
Tacos al Pastor
Prep Time: 20 mminutes, plus marinading t
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Keywords: grill entree pork pineapple Cinco de Mayo Mexican
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- 3.5 ounce package achiote paste
- 3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo
- 4 tablespoons of the canning sauce from adobo chiles
- 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds thin-sliced pork shoulder (I bought a roast and sliced it myself)
- 1 medium red onion, sliced 1/4- inch thick
- 1/4 of a medium pineapple, sliced 1/4-inch-thick rounds
Combine in a blender the achiote paste, chipotle chiles, the adobo sauce, oil, and 1/4 cup water. Blend until smooth and well-combined.
Rub the marinade on both sides of the meat, then place in a bowl. Pour remaining marinade over the meat, stir, then cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Start a fire in the grill, making sure to get it very very hot.
Brush some oil on the onion slices and pineapple, and grill about 2 minutes each side before moving to a cooler area of the grill to soften.
Cook the meat until charred and well-done, about 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the slices.
Remove the meat from the grill, chop into small pieces, and chop the pineapple and onion as well.
Combine in a skillet and sautee a few minutes to meld the flavors.
Serve in warm corn tortillas with cilantro and onions and lime.