Monday, April 11, 2016

Tacos al Pastor

Tacos al Pastor
My brother introduced me to tacos al pastor, and to this recipe, last Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if this is a traditional recipe or not--googling "tacos al pastor" got me all different forms of pork. Shredded, cubed, sliced. 
If you've never had them before, just know that tacos al pastor are made from pork marinated in a pineapple juice based marinade. It's almost like a Mexican teriyaki--sweet and salty deliciously tender pork. So good.
One thing I really enjoyed about how my brother prepared these tacos is that he cooked the corn tortillas in a little bit of oil rather than just heating them up. A little fat makes almost everything better, right? The cooking in a little oil makes the tortillas chewy and helps them hold up better to the fillings.
These tacos are not spicy at all, but if spicy is what you're into, I'm sure you could add some minced jalapeƱo to the marinade. 
I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough time for the meat to marinate since I got back from work around 5:15, but a 20-minute soak was plenty, and I had dinner on the table by 6:15, which, if you know me, is pretty good. I'm sure you could prepare the meat in the marinade in the morning and let it sit in the fridge all day and then cook it up quickly. It's really an easy meal. I strongly recommend you try it. Soon. And that's all I have to say. Enjoy.

Tacos al Pastor

Marinade Ingredients:
  • 2 cans (6 oz. each) pineapple orange juice
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons red chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork loin/tenderloin, cubed or thinly sliced 1-inch pieces
Other Taco Ingredients:
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 squeeze lime juice
  • In a medium sized glass bowl, whisk all of the marinade ingredients except the meat. Add the meat and allow to marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours or so.
  • Mix the half cup of diced onion with the 2 tablespoons cilantro and squeeze of lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  • When you're ready to prepare the tacos, prepare a sheet of aluminum foil folded in half to contain the heated tortillas. Then preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot, drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon oil over the center, and place a tortilla. Cook tortilla for approximately 1 minute, or until bottom is starting to brown; flip and cook another minute. Remove hot browned tortilla to the foil, placing it between the layers of foil to keep it warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • When done heating tortillas turn heat up to just above medium. Pour a little oil in the bottom of the pan (about a tablespoon). Remove meat from marinade with a slotted spoon and spread out in the bottom of the pan, taking care not to crowd the pieces of meat. You'll cook about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of meat at a time.
  • Stir meat to cook and caramelize evenly. When meat is cooked through and caramelized on the outside, place cooked meat in a heat-proof container and cover. Continue cooking meat, wiping pan with a clean paper towel between batches. Adjust heat and add oil as needed.
  • When meat is done, place two tortillas on your plate (yes, two--the double layer adds stability), top with about 1/2 cup cooked meat and a tablespoon or so of the cilantro/onion mixture. 
Makes about 6 tacos.

The meat is marinating
Heating a tortilla
Not the most attractive pic, but you can see how much meat to cook at a time
Such good tacos
This is the recipe my brother sent. He's not an exact cook, but he's a good one.

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