Tacos al Pastor
Serves: makes about 12 to 14 tacos
3 pounds pork shoulder or butt, sirloin cutlets or butterfly chops, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 cups achiote adobo marinade (recipe follows)
Half of a pineapple, peeled, cut into ˝-inch slices
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste
12 to 14 corn tortillas (use flour tortillas if turning these tacos into “gringas”)
Shredded queso asadero, Mexican Oaxaca or Chihuahua, or mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or any melty cheese of your choice (optional, to be turned into “gringas”)
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, to garnish
1 cup roughly chopped white onion, to garnish
2 limes, cut into quarters, to garnish
Salsa of your choice
1. Marinate the meat in the adobo marinade for at least 3 hours, or up to 48 hours, in the refrigerator. Reserve 3/4 cup of marinade to brush on the pineapple before grilling/cooking and to finish off meat.
2. When ready to make tacos, remove the meat from the refrigerator. Brush some of the reserved marinade on the pineapple slices. Reserve the remaining marinade.
3. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a tablespoon of oil. Place as many pineapple slices as will fit on the skillet and sear for about 3 minutes per side, until juicy and lightly charred on both sides. Remove from heat. When cool enough to handle, cut the pineapple into thin slices about 1 to 2-inches long and 1/4-inch wide, removing the core. Place in a bowl and cover.
4. Drizzle another tablespoon of oil onto the skillet. Lightly sprinkle the meat with salt to taste. Sear as many slices of meat as will fit in the pan, without over crowding, for about 2 minutes per side until browned on both sides. Cook in batches if necessary. Place the meat on a chopping board. Cut it crosswise into thin slices about 1/4-inch thick and 1-inch wide.
5. Once done with all the meat, reduce the heat to medium, place the meat back in the skillet and pour the rest of the unused marinade on top. Stir and cook for another minute. Cover and set on the table.
6. On a pre-heated cast iron skillet or comal set over medium heat, heat the corn tortillas 1 to 2 minutes per side until thoroughly cooked, lightly browned and crisp on the outside. Place them in a tortilla warmer and bring to the table along with the meat, pineapple, chopped cilantro, chopped onion, lime wedges, and salsa of your choice. Let everyone assemble their own tacos.
Note: If you want to offer some “gringas,” heat flour tortillas on the comal and, once hot, add the melty cheese, fold, and let it melt as if it were a quesadilla. Once melted, re-open the tortilla, add a generous tablespoon or two of the sliced meat, fold again and serve.
2 guajillo chiles
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup roughly chopped white onion
2 tablespoons achiote paste
1 cup bitter orange juice (or substitute with 1/3 cup orange juice, 1/3 cup lime juice and 1/3 cup white distilled vinegar)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground true or ceylon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
Stem and seed the guajillo chiles. Toast them on a pre-heated comal or skillet, set over medium heat, for about 1 to 2 minutes per side until they are toasted, but not burnt. Place the chiles in a saucepan, add enough water to cover them, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until the chiles are plumped up and rehydrated.
In a blender, place the chiles along with 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid and the rest of the ingredients. Puree until smooth. Use as a marinade.