Edit ModuleShow Tags

Tacos Al Pastor (Chili Marinated Pork Tacos) Recipe

Celebrate National Taco Day in style with these jazzed up pork tacos


Published:

Terry Brennan

A great way to celebrate National Taco Day, which is October 4, (but any day can be Taco Day, can’t it?!) is with some jazzed up flavorful tacos that go way beyond ground beef. Throughout Mexico and Mexican neighborhoods in the United States, Tacos Al Pastor are a popular treat. Typically Al Pastor is made from thin slices of pork shoulder rubbed with a chili paste, stacked, and grilled on a vertical spit similar to Turkish doner kebabs, notes meat expert Bruce Aidells, who contributed this recipe to Real Food. To prepare a taco, the cook simply slices pork from the outer edge, coarsely chops the meat, and stuffs it into a tortilla. Often a whole, peeled pineapple crowns the top of the spit, and a few pineapple chunks are added to the taco. He’s found that Al Pastor can be made simply by grilling thin cutlets of pork cut from the pork shoulder butt with great results. You also can use thin-cut boneless pork chops. Al Pastor also makes a great filling for burritos and tortas. Happy National Taco Day!

October 4 is also National Vodka Day, which we celebrated here last October, so you may want to whip up a tasty cocktail to raise a glass to both “holidays”!


Tacos Al Pastor (Chili Marinated Pork Tacos)

Makes 4 to 6 servings


Al Pastor Paste (Red Chili Paste)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 c. Ancho, New Mexico, or California chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
pinch cinnamon
1⁄4 c. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 lb. boneless Boston butt (pork shoulder butt), cut in 1⁄4-inch cutlets

12 to 18 corn tortillas

Garnishes, if desired
finely chopped red onion
chopped cilantro
shredded jack or cheddar cheese
chopped green onions
sour cream
salsa verde (see below)
Pico de gallo (see below)
lime wedges
guacamole (see below)
fresh pineapple, diced

For the Al Pastor paste: Combine all ingredients except pork in a small bowl and whisk to form a smooth paste. Generously smear paste over entire surface of cutlets. Place pork in a zipper-lock bag and marinate at room temperature 2 hours (or in refrigerator overnight).

Build a charcoal fire, spreading coals so some areas are thicker. When thicker layer is medium-hot, fire is ready. If using a gas grill, heat to medium-hot.

Remove pork from bag, leaving paste on meat. Place meat directly over flame. Grill 1 to 2 minutes per side. If flaming occurs, move to a cooler part of grill. Meat is done when firm to the touch. If necessary, cut into a cutlet to check for doneness; center should be faintly pink.

Transfer meat to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Chop into 1⁄2-inch pieces and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve 3 tacos per person, letting guests dish up their own garnishes.


Salsa Verde

Makes 1 cup

6 medium tomatillos, husked, washed, and diced, or 6 canned tomatillos, chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice, or more to taste
3 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

In a small saucepan, boil tomatillos and jalapeños 5 minutes with enough water to cover, until soft. (If using canned tomatillos, only boil jalapeños.) Drain and let cool.

In a blender jar, combine all ingredients with 1⁄2 tsp. salt. Blend until smooth and season to taste with lime and salt. Will keep refrigerated 2 to 3 days.

Pico de Gallo

Makes 2 cups

3 medium ripe tomatoes, stemmed and diced
1⁄2 c. sweet red onion, finely chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tsp. sugar, or more to taste
2 tsp. olive oil (optional)
1 c. chopped cilantro

In a small serving bowl, stir all ingredients until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar. Will keep refrigerated up to 1 day.

 

Guacamole

Makes 1 to 2 cups

1 large ripe Haas avocado, seeded and peeled
1⁄4 c. ripe tomato, diced
1⁄4 c. red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. fresh jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp. fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1⁄2 tsp. salt

Place avocado into a medium bowl and mash coarsely with a fork or potato masher. Do not over mash; texture should be quite lumpy. Stir in remaining ingredients and season with lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.


Nutrition info Tacos al Pastor: (Per serving, without garnishes): Calories 500 (208 from fat); Fat 23g (sat. 7g); Chol 97mg; Sodium 965mg; carb 36g; Fiber 6g; Protein 37g

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rfischer@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Fine Spirits Classic Twin Cities 2018

Sip on cocktails prepared by top mixologists and enjoy gourmet fare at Minnesota Monthly's seventh annual Fine Spirits Classic at Orchestra Hall on July 26

Grilled Vegetable and Bratwurst Salad Recipe

Think “outside the bun” and enjoy summer’s favorite grilled brats in a fresh veggie salad for a low-carb alternative

The Twin Cities' Best Hot Dogs

The hottest of hot dogs, to celebrate National Hot Dog Day on July 18

3 Things to Eat This Week: July 11-15

Feast on a fat sandwich, a sweet treat, or something oozy and icy

8 Juicy Places in the Metro

Fresh squeezing and blending superfoods for a super life

Review: Centro Opens in Northeast

Tacos, frozen drinks, and spectacular sides in a unique Northeast space

Cherry and Chocolate Truffle Tart Recipe

Take advantage of the short but sweet cherry season with a luscious cherry and chocolate treat

Pizza Madness: Dulono's Pizza

As one of 32 pizza participants, Dulono’s Pizza battles it out in Minnesota Monthly's Pizza Madness Bracket Challenge

3 Things to Eat This Week: Cooling Off

It's officially summer. Cool down with ice cream, poke, or cold noodles.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags