Tacos al Pastor

Football is coming and no other sport commands the attention and affections of the country like it. From preseason hype to fantasy mock drafts, the feverish intensity is already building towards the kickoff in a couple weeks. To get your game day menu ready for the opening coin flip, here is Tacos al Pastor – a beautiful and flavorful dish featuring slow roasted marinated pork. The combination of chiles, seeds, and spices brings a rich depth of aroma that is balanced by a refreshing pineapple salsa.

This recipe begins with boneless pork shoulder, also known as Boston Butt, sliced ¾” thick for ease and speed of grilling. The pork is marinated for hours in a puree of chiles, vinegar, garlic, sugar, pineapple, salt, onion, and anchiote paste. The pork is then grilled over low heat for about 12 minutes per side until the marinade dries and begins to caramelize. The pineapple salsa is a refreshing combination of grilled pineapple, finely chopped habanero chiles, onion, fresh mint, salt, and lime juice that features spicy, sweet, and crunchy texture. Once combined on a warmed tortilla, the marinated pork and pineapple salsa are perfectly married with each bite. So grab yourself some tacos in one hand and an icy beverage in the other for this hallowed event – this is football grilling on game day in America!

Servings: 6-8

Tacos al Pastor Ingredients

  • 10 guajillo chiles, seeds removed
  • 2 chiles de árbol
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), sliced ¾” thick
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons prepared or fresh achiote paste
  • 3 ounces kosher salt (7 tablespoons Diamond Crystal or 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Morton), plus more
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into ½” rings, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 2 red habanero chiles, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

Achiote Paste

  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup annatto seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican or Italian oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Tacos al Pastor Directions

  1. Bring guajillo chiles, chiles de árbol, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes to let chiles soften.
  2. Place pork in a large bowl. Purée chiles and soaking liquid, garlic, vinegar, sugar, achiote paste, 3 oz. salt, half of the pineapple, and half of the onion in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour over pork, stirring to coat thoroughly. Cover and chill 3–12 hours.
  3. If using a gas grill or grill pan, prepare for medium-high heat; if using a charcoal grill, prepare for two zones of heat, medium-high and low. Grill remaining pineapple over medium-high heat, turning once, until charred, 6–8 minutes. Finely chop pineapple and combine with habanero chiles, mint, lime juice, and remaining onion in a small bowl. Season with salt, cover, and chill until ready to use.
  4. If using gas grill or grill pan, reduce heat to low; if using charcoal grill, use low-zone heat. Remove pork from marinade and grill until marinade on pork has dried and begins to caramelize and char, about 12 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let pork rest 10 minutes.
  5. Grill tortillas until soft and beginning to char, about 30 seconds per side. Slice pork against the grain into ¼” strips. Top each tortilla with a few pieces of pork and some pineapple salsa. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Do Ahead: Pineapple salsa can be made 4 hours ahead; keep chilled.

Achiote Paste

  1. Blend cloves, bay leaf, annatto seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, peppercorns, and salt in a blender on low speed, increasing to high, until finely ground.
  2. Add garlic, vinegar, lime zest, and orange zest and continue blending until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to a small airtight container and chill.

Do Ahead: Paste can be made 1 month ahead. Store in an airtight container and chill.

Taken from: BonAppetit.com

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