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Tacos Al Pastor

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gracoman View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13 May 2018 at 09:13
The following description is from the Historical Mexico site:

Tacos Al Pastor: A Mexican Dish with a Recent History

By Illeana Moore

Tacos Al Pastor are widely popular throughout Mexico as well as other countries, such as the United States. This dish typically consists of shaved spit-roasted pork, pineapple, onion, and cilantro all on top of a cooked corn tortilla. Of course there are slightly different variations of tacos al pastor in the different regions, however the preparation and cooking style of the pork remain relatively the same throughout Mexico. Tacos al pastor is prepared by first marinating pork slices in a marinade that usually contains fruit juices, chilies, and spices such as oregano, achiote, cumin, and more. After the pork is thoroughly marinated, it is then placed on a vertical spit called a ‘trompo’. As the pork spins on the trompo, the pork fat heats up and drips down to create a crispy exterior. On top of the trompo, it is common to see either a pineapple or onion that is sliced off and placed into the taco. Along with the pineapple and/or onion, cilantro is a common ingredient that is added to tacos al pastor. Depending on the region, chef, and family recipe, the tacos’ toppings vary.

The origins of tacos al pastor are linked to Lebanese immigrants who migrated to Mexico during the 1930’s. These immigrants migrated from the Ottoman Empire due to a multitude of different reasons such as evading military conscription, escaping violence, and searching for better economic opportunities. The use of the trompo was inspired by the method used to prepare Shawarma, which is spit-roasted lamb on pita bread. *Shawarma was a very popular dish in the Ottoman Empire and its popularity spread throughout the empire. The vertical spit was invented in the Ottoman Empire during the 14th century and was quickly accepted as the only way to prepare Shawarma*. During the 1930’s, some of the Lebanese immigrants opened their own restaurants in which they served the popular Middle Eastern dish. There was also a variation of shawarma that popped up called tacos arabes which was lamb on a flour tortilla. Later, during the 1960’s in Puebla, the Mexican-born children of these immigrants opened their own restaurants and put a Mexican twist onto the popular Lebanese dish. Lamb was switched out for pork, which was then marinated in a variety of spices and chilies that are popular in Mexican cuisine. The pita bread and/or flour tortilla were then switched out for corn tortillas. At one point, pineapple began to be included to the taco al pastor recipe. The origins of the inclusion of pineapple remain a food mystery to this day. It was also during the 1960’s when tacos al pastor found its way into Mexico City and gained immense popularity. Since then, tacos al pastor have become a long-lasting part of Mexican cuisine and a go-to street food choice.


Who doesn't love tacos al pastor?  No one I know.  The addition of pineapple to these tacos was a brilliant idea in my estimation.  Much like pizza, not everybody likes the addition of pineapple to these tacos but I love it on both dishes.  It is a wonderful compliment to the marinated pork and spicy green salsa always served with these tacos along with chopped onion and cilantro.  The world would be a less colorful place without these street tacos.

There are several ways to prepare tacos al pastor at home other than on the traditional spinning vertical spit known as a trompo.  A rotisserie over an open flame would work well and Kenji at Serious Eats has developed a method using a loaf pan.  I used a 10" stationary vertical spit to cook the meat over live fire with a little smoke wood added.  

Finished Adobo


I placed a pork butt in the freezer for about 4 hours to make it easier to debone and thinly slice.  The slices were marinated for 24hrs in the adobo along with a cup of pineapple juice before adding them to the spit.  The bottom and top held the pealed top and base of the pineapple and pineapple rings were placed within the meat column.


The meat was roasted at 275-300ºF for a total of 6 hrs. 


The meat cooks from the outside in and is shaved as it finishes.  The first shaving.


4th shaving


An easy way to fry corn tortillas is to quickly coat them with an oil spray such as PAM and fry them.  These are street tacos so I used street taco sized corn tortillas



Tacos Al Pastor plated with chopped onion, radish, cilantro, and avocado tomatillo salsa.  I used 6 serrano peppers.  We like it spicy.  There were limes but I forgot to place them for the photo.

I could eat these every day.




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pitrow View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2018 at 10:02
mmm. I love tacos of any kind, but al pastor is possibly my favorite. I've never attempted to make them, but after reading this maybe I should give it a go. Very nice g-man!
Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 May 2018 at 08:10
Yep, try it.  You'll like it. 

This was easy and it made enough for several go arounds along with leftovers which I vac packed and put in the freezer for when the need arises.

I personally believe a vacuum sealer should be standard equipment in any kitchen along with an accurate scale.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 May 2018 at 10:36
What do you use for the vertical spit?
Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 May 2018 at 15:05
You don't really need a vertical spit.  See the recipe by Serious Eats in my original post for the loaf pan method.  A rotisserie would also work and probably work better.

If you want to try a vertical spit you can easily make one out of pineapple and a stick

I bought one for presentation and because I know I'll be using it again for al pastor as well as gyro and donair meat.  Look here for a 10' and here for an 8" if you want to buy one.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 July 2018 at 11:02
You set the bar pretty high with this one, gMan - great job!

Is the recipe for the adobo that you used the same as the recipe in the video? I really like the look of it.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 July 2018 at 17:38
Yes, I did use the video adobo.  I liked the look of it too! 
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