Tacos al Pastor

Cuisine: Fusion
Prep Time: 5 hours
Cook Time: 3 hours
Servings: 8 servings
Tacos al Pastor is a popular and delicious pork and pineapple taco, originally served by Mexican street vendors.

Tacos al pastor is an Arab-Mexican recipe originally called tacos árabes (“Arabic tacos”). The reason? Lebanese immigrants introduced Mexico to spit-roasting in the 1930's. Today, they are still traditionally cooked by street vendors on a large vertical spit, but lucky for you, I have a recipe for delicious stove-top tacos al pastor.

The secret to intensified flavors and an extra tender meat made on the stove top is to cook the pork in a low and slow simmer.

The Annatto paste is a key ingredient to this recipe, and what gives the pork sauce its signature red color.


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  1. Combine all the dry spices and season the pork evenly. In a large pan, heat the oil to medium/high heat, add the seasoned pork to the hot oil, and cook until all sides of the meat are seared well, for approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  2. Transfer the ancho peppers to a glass bowl, cover with water and cook in the microwave for 6 to 7 minutes. You can also add the chile ancho to a sauce pan of boiling water. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, set aside.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce into the blender. Drain the chile ancho and add them as well. Blend on high until smooth, taste for salt.
  4. Add the fresh pineapple and sauce from the blender to the pork, stir well to combine. Add in the remaining chicken broth. Stir to combine. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat, cover and cook, stirring often, for a good 2 to 2½ hours or until pork is tender. Taste for salt, and add a little water if you notice the pork getting too dry.
  5. Serve as-is with rice, beans, and warm tortillas. If preparing tacos, I like to chop the pork into small pieces and quickly sear it before serving. You can sauté more fresh pineapple with the pork or on the side.
  6. Garnish with pineapple, salsa, diced onions, cilantro and lime. Enjoy!

Chef Notes

Canned pineapple will not give you the same results, trust me. Go with fresh! If you cannot find the achiote (annatto) paste, achiote powder is easily found in supermarkets with a larger Hispanic foods section. Add 2 tablespoons of powder to replace the paste. I let my pork cool completely and then chill it overnight. The next day, I take out only what I will need and slice it while it’s cold. Heat in nonstick pan until warm. I like to remove the pork pieces from the extra sauce once it’s cooked. It makes for a less messy taco when you are slicing the meat. I serve the warm sauce on the side with the other toppings. It makes things a lot less messy.

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