Inspired by Lebanese immigrants, al pastor style tacos have a unique and interesting flavor all their own. Grilled Pork Tacos al Pastor is my version of this delicious dish. Serve with a pineapple slaw, it’s a complete meal your family will love.
I told you I’ve been on a taco kick lately, right? Well, I have. I shared a few taco recipes for #BBQWeek and now I have two taco recipes for #CookoutWeek. I have no idea why I’ve been so taco obsessed except that they’re delicious, versatile, and fun!
I’ve even made slow cooker pork al pastor a few years ago. However, for these, I wanted to grill the pork. Because, well, Cookout Week! Hello!?
For those that don’t know tacos al pastor are a traditional central Mexico dish. Pastor meat is typically spit fired meat like shawarma or gyro meat. And that’s because Lebanese immigrants brought this method of cooking to Mexico. This method was combined with the flavors of Mexican cuisine and there you have it! Tacos al pastor was born!!
There are many different, regional varieties of al pastor. And sometimes it’s just a matter of what type of tortilla you serve it on. If it’s on maize flour it’s called something different than if it’s on wheat flour. Then there’s the árabes style bread which is like a pita bread.
And here’s the irony to the store. Tacos árabes (or Arabic from the Arabic Mexican cuisine which I know nothing about but am completely intrigued about) which is the shawarma style taco meat served on pita bread was taken BACK to the Middle East. They call it shawarma mexici and use meat other than pork. And there we come full circle.
And thus concludes your history lesson for the day.
Of course, this isn’t grilled on a spit. It’s just a pork roast that I marinated and grilled. It has such great flavor with the achiote, pineapple, and cumin. So much learning in this recipe. For those that don’t know, achiote paste is typically the paste made from seeds of the achiote bush. You can also find it labelled as annatto in the grocery. At least that’s the case in my grocery store.
Anyway, it has a very unique and interesting flavor. Some describe it as peppery with a hint of nutmeg. I’m not sure I get that flavor. Not to mention that gorgeous red color that coats the outside of the meat. People have used achiote for decades as a dye because it makes such a pretty reddish orange color to everything! Including your hands, to be careful when handling it.
So, some might ask about the pineapple. I didn’t ask and probably will get reamed for using crushed pineapple, but since it was in the slaw I didn’t feel it necessary to grill slices of pineapple to serve with the tacos. For you purists out there, sorry if I’ve offended, but these are MY recipes. Just saying.
Anyway, since they cook the meat on a spit, they place pineapple at the top and bottom to keep the meat in place. At some point during the slicing of the meat off the spit some pineapple ended up onto the taco itself. I imagine someone telling the restaurant (or street vendor) that, “Hey! That pineapple tastes great with the meat! You should probably grill some and serve it with the tacos.” At least in my head that’s how it all went down.
All good al pastor restaurants serve slices of pineapple with the tacos. I the al pastor capital of Mexico, it is. And this tradition has traveled wherever al pastor has gone including Chicago which has a large Latin American population, or so I’ve read. Tacos al pastor has traveled, like I said, back to the Middle East as well as other parts of the globe.
You can see some of that typical red color on the meat there. I just diced mine, but you could easily slice this roast like it’s on a spit. Just put your meat fork through the size and stand it up. That way you can pretend that you spit roasted it! Or you could do like Epicurious or one of those other food sites where they stacked chops in a skewer and roasted it in the oven. Or, if your grill is tall enough, you can roast it on your grill. Mine’s not that tall. But it would be interesting to try to smoke al pastor meat.
Stay tuned for that recipe!
This is the first time I heated the tortillas on the gas stove. I kind of like the charred edges and slightly crisp texture that gives me. I might have to do that again. Besides, it’s quicker than heating up the oven and having them toast on the baking stone. I sometimes forget them and they turn into tostadas instead.
You can see the bright colors of the slaw! There’s cabbage and carrot, of course, but there’s also some green onion and maybe a dash of jalapeno in there. Don’t quote me on that one though. I’m THE WORST at writing down the recipe before I make it. In my head, I think I’ll write it down after I cooked the recipe. That rarely happens.
I hope you try al pastor tacos at home. You can make them with a slow cooker like I did, or grill them. OR you could roast them in the oven. Either way, they have delicious flavor. You could even skip the pineapple if you wanted. I won’t tell anyone.
This is part of #CookoutWeek! Which has a HUGE giveaway of over $750 in prizes. Make sure you head over here to enter. It’s at the bottom of the post which lists all the goodies we’re giving away!
- 2 whole guajillo chiles
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon achiote paste
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 pounds lean pork loin
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 cups crushed pineapple, divided
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 12 warmed flour tortillas
- Combine the guajillo chiles with the boiling water and allow to steep for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the stems and seeds before putting into a blender with the water and the next 8 ingredients (orange juice through oregano). Pour the marinade into a zip top plastic bag along with the pork loin. Marinate the pork at least 4 hours but overnight would be better.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill the pork until the internal temperature reaches 145. Allow to rest, tented with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing.
- While the pork is cooking, combine the mayonnaise with the vinegar and sugar. Stir in 1 cup of the pineapple, the cabbage, and the shredded carrot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the pork has rested cut into a large dice. Top each tortilla with slaw, some crushed pineapple, and cubed pork and serve with cumin rice and refried black beans.
Disclaimer: Thank you to #CookoutWeek Sponsors The PinterTest Kitchen, Chef Shamy, Maple Leaf Farms, Barleans, and Vermont Village for providing the prizes free of charge. These sponsors also provided bloggers with samples and product to use for creating #CookoutWeek recipes. All opinions are my own.