Tacos Al Pastor

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“Al pastor” is a cooking style that was introduced to Mexico from Lebanese immigrants. The traditional version might remind you of shawarma — the meat is cooked on a skewer in front of a vertical grill and sliced very thinly —  but chef Robert Tobin’s adaptation is slow roasted in the oven on low heat for four hours. Same great flavor, much less work. Eating pork on New Year’s Day is said to bring good luck (and this recipe uses two types: loin and bacon) so give it a try to increase the odds for an awesome 2018.


Yields: 10 Tacos


  • 5 whole ancho chilies, seeds and stems removed
  • 5 whole pasilla or guajillo chilies, seeds and stems removed
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 5 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 5 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 5 teaspoons dried ground cumin seed
  • 5 tablespoons achiote powder or paste
  • 5 chipotle chili packed in adobo sauce, plus 7 tablespoons sauce from can
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 6 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 5 teaspoons sugar
  • 7 whole cloves garlic
  • 5 pounds pork loin
  • 1 1/4 pounds sliced bacon
  • 1 1/2 small pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters lengthwise
  • Flour tortillas, heated and kept warm
  • 2 white onions, finely diced
  • 1/2 bunch minced fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • Limes, cut into 8 wedges each for serving


  1. Place chilies in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, turning chilies occasionally, until puffed, pliable, lightly browned in spots, and very aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock (it should boil immediately), then pour contents of pan into a small bowl. Cover loosely and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, add vegetable oil, and set over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Add oregano, cumin, and achiote powder/paste and cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add chipotle chilies and adobo sauce and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds longer. Add distilled white vinegar, salt, and sugar. Remove from heat.
  3. Scrape contents of saucepan into a blender along with garlic. Add the chilies mixture from step #1 with their soaking liquid. Blend on high speed until completely smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides. Set sauce aside to cool slightly.
  4. Using a sharp knife, slice the pork loin to be 1/4-inch thick pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the blended marinade to a bowl and toss with hands until every piece of meat is evenly coated in marinade.
  5. Line the bottom of a disposable aluminum loaf pan with bacon. Add a layer of thin-sliced marinated meat. Continue layering in bacon and meat until all the meat is used up. (It may pile above the pan a little bit. This is ok.) Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 36 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Uncover the aluminum loaf pan and place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and cook until meat is completely tender (it will drip lots of fat), about 4 hours. Remove from oven, cool slightly, cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  7. To Serve: Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove cooked meat from aluminum tray, scraping off any fat or jellied juices from its sides. Use a spoon to collect fat and juices from tray, reserving each separately. Using a sharp knife, slice meat as thinly as possible to create fine shavings of meat and fat. Transfer to a bowl.
  8. If fat from meat is solid, heat gently in the microwave or in the oven until melted. Transfer pineapple pieces to a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Brush with fat. Transfer to oven and roast until completely tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  9. About 10 minutes before pineapple is done roasting, transfer meat and 1 tablespoon of fat to a large cast iron or non-stick skillet. Heat over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until meat crisps and deeply browns in spots. Add any reserved juices and toss to combine, allowing it to cook until reduced to a moist glaze. Transfer meat to a warmed serving bowl.
  10. Chop roasted pineapple into large chunks. Serve meat and pineapple immediately with warmed tortillas, diced onions, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. Meat will be very moist and should be packed into double- stacked tortillas for serving.

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