Tacos al Pastor
Tacos Al pastor is a dish developed in Central Mexico, likely as a result of the adoption of the shawarma spit-grilled meat brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico
Having derived from the shawarma, it is also similar to the Turkish doner kebab and the Greek gyros. Whereas doner is usually lamb-based (thus the "shepherd style" name), gyros and tacos al pastor in Mexico are made from pork.
Serves 6 to 8
If you cannot find guajillo chiles, New Mexico chiles may be substituted--the dish may be slightly spicy. Boneless pork butt roast is often labeled Boston butt in the supermarket. To warm tortillas, place them on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp kitchen towel; microwave on high power 30 to 45 seconds. For best results, keep warmed tortillas covered with damp towel and use immediately.
1 ½ cups water
2 ounces guajillo chiles (about 10 large chiles), rinsed and stemmed
1 ¼ pounds plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
¾ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 pounds boneless pork butt roast
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
Vegetable oil, for brushing
18 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
1 small onion, chopped fine
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
1. Bring water, chiles, tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, sugar, cumin, and cloves to simmer in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chiles are softened and tomatoes mash easily, about 20 minutes.
2. While sauce simmers, trim exterior of pork of any excess fat and slice against grain into 1/2-inch-thick slabs.
3. Transfer chile-tomato mixture to blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain puree through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids in strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Return puree to pot, add pork slices and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and gently simmer until pork is tender, but still holds together, 75 to 90 minutes. (Pork and sauce can be prepared to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
4. Transfer pork to large plate, season both sides with salt, and cover tightly with foil. Pour off all but 1 ½ cups sauce from pot (extra sauce can be reserved for another use). Bring sauce in pot to simmer and cook until reduced to 1 cup, 3 to 5 minutes; season with salt to taste. Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to bowl for grilling; leave remaining 1/2 cup sauce in pot for dressing cooked pork. Brush both sides of pineapple with vegetable oil and season with salt.
5A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
5B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium.
6. Clean and oil cooking grate. Brush one side of pork with ¼ cup reserved sauce. Place pork on one side of grill, sauce-side down, and cook until well-browned and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Brush pork with remaining ¼ cup sauce, flip, and continue to cook until second side is well-browned and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer to cutting board (do not tent with foil). Meanwhile, brush both sides of pineapple slices with vegetable oil and season with salt. Place on other half of grill and cook until pineapple is softened and caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes per side; transfer pineapple to cutting board.
7. Coarsely chop grilled pineapple and transfer to serving bowl. Using tongs or carving fork to steady pork (it will be hot), slice each piece crosswise into 1/8-inch pieces. Bring remaining 1/2 cup sauce in pot to simmer, add sliced pork, remove pot from heat, and toss to coat pork well. Season with salt to taste.
8. To serve, spoon small amount of pork into center of each warm tortilla and serve passing chopped pineapple and garnishes separately.