Sharing Al Pastor Tacos, one of my favorite flavors. I was really surprised about the origins of it – not Mexican but Lebanese! The method of cooking “al pastor” was inspired by shawarma.
When Lebanese immigrants moved to Mexico in the 1930s after the Ottoman empire fell, they brought their spit-roasted meat (especially lamb). Their roast lamb served on a flour tortilla or pita bread. This is why al pastor is means shepherd. Initially it was called tacos arabes or “Arab tacos”.
Pork replaced the lamb (it just wasn’t popular in Mexico), and people added cilantro and pineapple. The pork is marinated for hours in spices and chiles then cooked on a vertical spit. As the meat cooks, the outside layer gets crispy and the fat and juices to drip, basting it as it crisps. (source, source)
Why and who added pineapple remains a mystery. I don’t like cooked pineapple, but al pastor tacos is one of the exceptions – it just adds such great flavor.
Sadly we don’t have a vertical roast spit and finding some of the chiles was difficult in Connecticut so we had to get creative. But it still tasted delicious
Al Pastor Tacos
10 guajillo chiles, seeds removed
2 de Arbol chiles
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder,
6 garlic cloves
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons achiote paste
1 cup pineapple, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 red habanero chiles, seeds removed, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
8 corn tortillas
Lime wedges (for serving)
Cut the pork shoulder into 2 to 4 inch chunks and place in large ziploc bags
Bring guajillo and de arbol chiles and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit 20 minutes to let chiles soften.
Place pork in a large bowl. Purée the boiled chiles, garlic, vinegar, sugar, achiote paste, salt, half of the pineapple, and half of the onion, habanero chiles in a food processor until pureed. Pour over pork in a ziploc bag and marinate for at least 3-12 hours.
Place marinated pork and marinade in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Remove from slow cooker and place pork chunks in a baking pan. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes in 225°F oven until crispy
When ready to serve, place the meat on corn tortillas. Top with remaining chopped onion and pineapple, and cilantro. Squeeze lime juice and serve hot. Enjoy!