How to Make Homemade Tacos Al Pastor
Cook Time Short Cuts!
I have provided a number of easy ways to cut the prep-time down by almost an hour without making a major taste sacrifice. Click here.
Note on Cook Time:
Cooking Tacos Al Pastor in the traditional way is a two-step process:
- Preparation of the Achiote Marinade, which takes 45 minutes to an hour, followed by at least 2 1/2 hours of marinade time in the refrigerator (I like to let it sit over night).
- Grilling the pork shoulder steaks and preparing the pineapple relish, which also takes 45 minutes to an hour, followed by actually assembling the tacos.
Complete Ingredients for Tacos Al Pastor:
- 12 Guajillo Chili Peppers, deveined
- 2 Oranges, fresh juice only
- 6-7 Limes, fresh juice only
- 2 cups White Onion, diced fine
- 2 tsp. Salt
- 1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano Leaves
- 1/3 cup White Vinegar
- 1 tsp. Black Pepper
- 2 oz. Ground Achiote (Anatolle), found in hispanic section or at a hispanic grocer
- 1/2 bunch Cilantro, fresh
- 1/2 Pineapple, fresh (canned works, too)
- 32-36 Corn Tortillas
- 6-12 oz. Salsa Taquera, any red-chili-based salsa will do
Time Saving Suggestions:
- Use Pineapple Juice Instead of Fresh Orange/Lime Juice (Time Savings--10 minutes): Instead of using fresh orange and lime juice, use the juice that comes in a canned pineapple. This still makes for a great flavoring and takes far less work!
- Use Pork Chops Instead of Pork Roast (Time Savings--5 to 8 minutes): Pork chops can generally just be rinsed and thrown right in with no need to cut or prepare them.
- Use a Crock-pot Instead of Grilling (Time Savings--30 to 45 minutes): After letting the meat marinade, it is quite simple to just throw it all in the crock pot in the morning so it's ready when you come home. The flavor is very similar, losing only the unique tang that grilling gives to meat.
- Use Canned Pineapple Instead of Fresh (Time Savings--5 to 10 minutes): Instead of fresh pineapple, you can used canned which saves a good deal of time, losing, once again, only the flavor added by grilling. This makes the pineapple relish come together very quickly.
- Use Jarred Garlic Instead of Fresh (Time Savings--5 to 8 minutes): This garlic goes right in with no prep time needed, saving a touch of time that could be helpful in today's hectic world.
Instructions with Time Stamps for Easy Video Reference
- Introduction (0:17):
- In-Video Ingredients List for Achiote Marinade (1:28):
- De-vein & Soak 12 Guajillo Chiles (1:48): ...slice the tops off of the chiles and then cut them down the side, pull them apart and remove the seeds. Once de-veined, soak them in water for about 25 minutes while preparing other ingredients.
- Juice 2 Oranges & 1 Lime (2:47): ...combine the juice and set it aside (pineapple juice from canned pineapple can be substituted to save time).
- Dice 1 Cup White Onion (3:34): ...dice the onion fairly fine and set aside.
- Mince 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic (3:45): ...cut very small as garlic is a strong flavor (jarred garlic can be substituted to save time.)
- Blend Together 12 Softened Guajillo Chiles, Orange & Lime Juice, 1 Cup White Onion, 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic, 2 tsp. Salt, 1 Tbsp. Cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp. Oregano Leaves, and 1/3 Cup White Vinegar (4:24): ...use a standard electric kitchen blender.
- Blend in 1 tsp. Black Pepper & 2 oz. Dried Achiote (5:40): ...add to the blender and mix.
- Slice Pork Shoulder Roast into 1/2 Inch Thick Steaks (6:04): ...slicing roast into steaks allows the marinade to permeate the meat, making for rich flavor (pork butt roast also works well).
- Add Marinade to Meat & Refrigerate for 2 1/2 Hours, Minimum (6:52): ...I like to let this sit over night.
- In-Video Ingredients for Pineapple Relish (7:16): ...start the grill as you begin to prepare the Tacos Al Pastor relish.
- Chop 1/2 Bundle of Cilantro (7:29): ...chop as finely as possible.
- Dice 1 Cup White Onion (7:54): ...chop as finely as possible. Leaving the onion attached at the stem allows for much finer chopping (see video).
- Slice 1/2 Pineapple into 1/2-inch Discs (10:07): ...slicing the pineapple in this away allows for easy grilling (canned pineapple can be used here, eliminating the need for chopping and grilling).
- Grill Pineapple & Marinated Shoulder Steaks (10:40): ...grill the pineapple until it is golden brown in some places--black charring interferes with the flavor. Steaks cook for about 10 minutes (alternatively, the meat can go into the crock pot all day, saving lots of time and sacrificing only the "grilled" nature of the taste).
- Dice Cooked Steaks into Small Pieces (11:57): ...the smaller the better as these go directly into the tacos.
- Remove Skin from Pineapple and Chop Fine (13:07): ...the finer the better as this will be added to the pineapple relish.
- Mix Together 1 Cup Onion, Cilantro and Grilled Pineapple with the Juice of Two to Five Limes (13:48): ...the addition of limes helps to move the taste from sweet to tart. Add salt to taste at the end!
- Prepare Tortillas by Grilling on Comal or Frying Pan (14:13): ...traditionally, the tortillas are prepared by frying them, but I prefer grilling as it is much healthier. Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature and use it to keep the tortillas warm while you prepare the rest of the meal.
- Assemble your Tacos Al Pastor (16:21): ...place a layer of meat down, top it with the pineapple relish, then finish it off with a line of your chosen salsa taquera.
- Enjoy your Tacos Al Pastor! (18:27): ...this is the closing comments of the video.
- Closing Credits (18:48): ...thanks for spending time with me!
Other Mexican Recipes by Wayseeker
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