I have had San Diego tacos, street tacos in Ensenada, stuffed my face at a taco bar in Mexico city, filled up at the hipster Barrio Chino in Manhattan and hundreds in between. Fish tacos, carnitas, carne asada, la lengua and many others are definitely high on my list but there is just something about tacos Al Pastor that I never seem to tire of.
My head says gym but my heart says taco, taco, taco
Perhaps it’s the combination of the sweet, bitter, smoky peppers or that perfect sweet/sour from the pineapple juice.
My belly doesn’t care. All it knows is when an Al Pastor taco is done right…oh it knows. I should also note that the great thing about classic, traditional recipes is that they have been made over and over again using generally the same ingredients which makes comparisons online much easier.
I first learned the recipe while working at Aragona’s in Santa Cruz. It was a “fine dining” Italian restaurant but after our shifts Italian was the last thing we wanted. All the prep cooks, dishwashers and cleaning crew would head next door to a Mexican taqueria. We would stuff our faces silly with tacos and occasionally hang out with the crew in the back.
- Here it is folks and, yes, I can validate this dish. Your delicious tacos al pastor!
- 1/2 cup homemade unsalted chicken stock
- 2 whole ancho chiles (dried Poblano), seeds and stems removed
- 1 whole pasilla chili seeds and stems removed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon achiote powder
- 1 chipotle chili (dried Jalapeño)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 whole cloves garlic
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 pounds pork shoulder
- Freshly cubed pineapple (reserve some juice)
- I fast track this. I put everything sans the pork, pineapple and garlic in a saute pan. I cook the chilis in oil first, bloom the spices next, add the stock and all the other ingredients last. Cook for 5 minutes on simmer. Let cool to room temperature. Mash the garlic in the mixture. Take the rub and massage it into the pork shoulder. Let sit for a day.