tacos al pastor

now i realize we have about 2 1/2 weeks left in our meatless lenten endeavor, but going back & looking at these pictures & revisiting this recipe…these tacos are quickly moving to the top of the “things i want to eat as soon as lent is over” list.

see also:  bacon.

in all seriousness though, the sweet & smoky pork, grilled pineapple, tangy red onion, cool & creamy avocado & seriously kick ace chile salsa, all wrapped up in a warm tortilla are textural & flavorful perfection.

these tacos are the perfect menu for a leisurely saturday, because you can work on it piece by piece: get the pork marinating, get the chiles soaking, blend up the salsa, then grab a beverage & have the rest come together over the grill.

& then?  there will be plenty of salsa leftover to drizzle on sunday morning scrambled eggs.


serves 6-8

1 pineapple, peeled & cut crosswise into 1/2 rounds
1 large onion, halved
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup guajillo chile powder*
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 chipotles in adobo
1-2 teaspoons adobo
2 1/2-3 lbs boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
smoky, two chile salsa (recipe to follow)
1 avocado, pitted & sliced
flour tortillas
lime wedges

8 large, dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded & coarsely torn
2 cups hot water
1/2 medium onion, halved core-wise
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon adobo (from canned chipotle chiles)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
kosher salt

take two of the pineapple slices, remove the core & coarsely chop. toss pieces into a blender & puree. pour into a storage container & chill. cover & chill the remaining pineapple.

coarsely chop half the onion, reserve the other half. add the pieces to the blender. add the orange juice, vinegar, guajillo chile powder, garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, chipotle chiles & adobo. puree until smooth. place the pork slices into a large ziploc bag & add the pureed mixture, squeezing out the excess air. place in the fridge & let marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

to make the two chile salsa, place the torn chiles in a bowl. cover with hot water & let sit for 2 hours, or overnight. drain the chiles & reserve the soaking liquid.

over medium heat, heat a small nonstick skillet. to the dry skillet, add the onion & garlic. cook until brown & spotted, around 6 minutes for the garlic & 10 minutes for the onion. remove the dense core from the onion, then put the onion & garlic into a blender. to that, add the drained chiles, 1 cup of the soaking liquid, chipotle, adobo, cilantro & lime juice. puree until smooth & season with salt to taste.

once the salsa is made & the pork has marinated, add the reserved pineapple puree to the pork no. more. than. 30 minutes. before. grilling. otherwise, the pork will get too tenderized. you know that weird feeling your tongue gets when you eat a lot of pineapple? it’s being tenderized. don’t let that happen to the meat.

mix the red onion with lime juice. set aside. toss with cilantro just before serving.

heat the grill to medium high. grill the pineapple slices until warmed through & slightly charred. grill the pork slices until slightly charred & cooked through, 2-4 minutes per side. grill the remaining onion half. chop the cooked pineapple, pork & onions. grill the tortillas until slightly charred. transfer everything to a serving platter & serve alongside the lime juice pickled red onions, chile salsa, avocado slices & lime wedges. build your tacos & enjoy!

from the way the cookie crumbles

*dried guajillo chile powder can be made by pureeing about 6 large, seeded, dried guajillo chiles.  “chili powder” is not a good substitute in this case, since it contains more spices, in addition to dried chiles.  dried chiles are pretty readily available at most well stocked grocery stores, but you can score them at a much better price at hispanic grocery stores, or even at aldi.

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