Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Taco Al Pastor

This is hands down my favourite kind of taco. The taco al pastor I had at El Trompo in Toronto is the meal that made me a taco fan all those years ago. I love the spicy taste and the way it plays off the pineapple topping. But I was super scared to post a recipe, because even though I've spent boatloads of time perfecting it there are still a couple problems.

The first problem is the obvious: taco al pastor is traditional cooked on a spit and then shaved off (much like shawarma or gyro meat, if you've ever sampled non-Mexican cuisines), but I do not have a spit handy. So alternatively, I try my best to cut the pork loin thin for marinating and cooking, then chopped the pieces small for serving. 

The second problem is how to cook it. Ideally, I would do this on a BBQ. But being that my "balcony" is more of a thin awkward ledge, I don't have the space to make this happen. Instead, you can do it a couple of ways. I've broiled the meat (as seen in the picture above) and I've used my cast iron skillet. The taste is preferable on the skillet, but good lord does it get smokey. So you decide how to proceed. Either way, I think you'll enjoy it.

Ugh, iPhone photo

Taco al Pastor Recipe

Serves: 10-12 tacos                 Prep Time: 20 min (+1 day)            Cook Time: 10 min

1.5-2 lbs boneless pork loin
5 guajilo chiles
3 pasilla chiles 
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin 
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 white onion

Corn tortillas
White Onion

Prep the Meat 

Do this 24 hours before cooking. First, rehydrate the chiles. Snap the stems off the dried chiles and shake out the seeds. Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil, then add the chiles - plus a bay leaf - and simmer for 10 minutes. Roughly chop the garlic and onion. Combine all ingredients, including rehydrated chiles (minus the bay leaf) in a blender and puree until smooth.

Trim any large pieces of fat off the pork loin, then slice into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Combine the pork loin and 3/4 of the marinade into a freezer bag. If grilling, set aside the remaining marinade for basting (if broiling, pour it all into the freezer bag). Make sure the pork is well covered in marinade and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Cooking Time

Pre-heat the grill or stove top on medium-high. Transfer the meat to the grill or cast-iron skillet. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, coating the meat in extra marinade to avoid dryness. Remove from heat and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Alternatively for broiling, pre-heat the oven to broil. Place the meat on a baking tray and place it about 5 inches under the broiler. Cook for 6 minutes on each side, then remove and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Set the Table

Chop onion, pineapple and cilantro to serve over your meat. Throw the meat and toppings into a corn tortilla and squeeze a lime over the contents. Enjoy a taco with a great flavour and delayed kick of spiciness. 

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