We were in San Jose del Cabo last week for a long romantic weekend. It was so relaxing, and exactly what we had wanted; a weekend of sun, good food and drinks and no cares in the world. Whenever we are in Mexico, we look forward to eating real tacos. Not the ones we get back home that are over filled with meat as well as sour cream, cheese guacamole and chunky (and often watery) salsa. Why doesn’t anyone at home make good tacos! I am talking about simple tacos where flavor over quantity prevails; small tortillas with a little meat or fish, some minced cilantro or grilled onions as well as an assortment of outrageous sauces served on the side. We found a place that had Killer Tacos Al Pastor, which was simple grilled pork with a flick of pineapple (the guy making them literally would flick a piece of grilled pineapple from a whole one sitting on a grill), along with a spoonful of minced onion and cilantro. It was outstanding, and we couldn’t stop eating them.
The day after we came home we were craving tacos and hit a local spot near us that was supposed to have authentic tacos. What a huge disappointment when our plates arrived overloaded with three tacos that were stuffed with oily carnitas, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. We then vowed that we were on the quest to make real tacos at home from now on out. Hail the real taco!
This recipe for Tacos Al Pastor takes some time and cannot be made on a whim; trust me you want to invest in the time it takes to make these. They are outstanding. I made them using a pork shoulder butt that I marinaded for 24 hours in a mixture of ancho chilies, as well as some guajillo chiles and some oregano, cumin, and chipotle paste. To give the meat a clay red color I used achiote powder as well. After marinading the meat, I seared both sides on a hot grill to give the meat a smoky flavor before braising it with pineapple juice until tender and flavorful. Before serving I roasted pineapple slices which I basted with the juices from the meat until tender and even more flavorful. All that was left was a spoonful of minced onion and cilantro, and we had Tacos Al Pastor that was pretty darn close to what we had in San Jose del Cabo.
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