Tacos al Pastor

July 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Mexican/Southwest | 40 Comments
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It seems like Tacos al Pastor are everywhere lately…my favorite little taco joint here in Denver has them on the menu…Rick Bayless sent over a recipe via his newsletter…Food and Wine Magazine talked about them in their taco truck article…Gourmet Magazine referenced another Denver Mexican restaurant with Tacos al Pastor as a “must order”. So it seemed like this was a “must make” for me. 

I mean really, who can resist slow roasted pork slathered in a Mexican Red Sauce served on steamy corn tortillas topped with sweet grilled pineapple and carmelized onions.

I read that al pastor is a dish developed in Northern Mexico where a pig is slow roasted in an outdoor spit for two days. 

I’m assuming that an in-ground outdoor backyard spit smoldering a whole pig is against covenants in Highlands Ranch, so the crock pot will work just fine. Let’s get started.

For my red sauce I used some mild and earthy flavored dried red peppers as my base.

5 dried chiles
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeds and veins removed
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Coca-Cola
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 whole clove
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil

Stem and seed the dried chiles and place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with water and microwave at high power until softened, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, then drain and transfer to a blender. Add the chipotle chilis, orange juice, lime juice, soda and vinegar, anise seeds, oregano, cumin, clove, sugar and garlic powder. Blend until smooth.
Transfer the marinade to a saucepan. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until very thick, about 5 minutes; let cool.

I then added some chopped onion to the sauce to chunk it up.

Place a pork roast in the crock pot cover with the sauce and slow cook all day.

After the pork was cooked and shredded, I carmelized some onions in olive oil stove top.

Grilled up some pineapple spears.  I then warmed the corn tortillas, lined them with the saucy shredded pork, topped with the onions and the pineapple, some Mexican crumbling cheese and cilantro.

Served with some seasoned black beans and it made a pretty tasty meal.

This sauce was nothing like I’ve ever tasted. Very earthy and pungent. Topped with the sweet onions and pineapple, the cool Mexican cheese and some cilantro really made for a delicious combo. A squeeze of lime over the whole shebang = yum.

Tacos al Pastor…

It’s What’s For Dinner.



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  1. Oh My… they may be everywhere except on the islands… First time hearing about them, but i have some pork shoulder coming my way soon, and these sound like terrific left over fare

    Great post!

    • I don’t see why some of that mango glaze stuff wouldn’t work on tacos and pork. I’m loving that stuff over at your place.

  2. Muy Ricos!!! Can I come over for dinner!!?? Awesome tacos, looooove el pastor 😉

    • C’mon over Heather – you’re always welcome.

  3. I love your red sauce recipe!

    • That red sauce was pretty pungent. Not sure how it would be in another recipe, and certainly odd on a stand alone basis.

  4. Oh my…have not heard of them either or in truth had to have missed them cause we have some very similar subscriptions.

    When are you gonna get on Twitter with me…so you can see I tweeted this to the world; well, my little corner of it anyhow. These look amazing. Won’t you be my neighbor?

    • Yolandas (Dayton and Arapahoe) has al Pastor, Mexican joint at 7th and Santa Fe was mentioned in an old issue of Gourmet. Thanks for the tweet Barb.

  5. I can’t even imagine the results of combining those seasonings – sounds like a unique taste experience. I like that. I’d also like to see you being a rebel, digging a pit with a spit and trying the pig thingie. C’mon, you know you’re tempted. 😀

    • I also want a goat, think they’d notice?

  6. Tacos al pastor has to be one of my favorite pork dishes. Ever. It’s just so mindblowingly tasty! I love the sauce you’ve put on it.

  7. Are those HOA rules in Highlands Ranch interfering with your dinner plans? Unbelievable!
    What a wonderful recipe. I know that my family would love this. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes they are! Think I’ll move south! 🙂

  8. Wow, these look and sound wonderful. You’re making me hungry for tacos and it’s only breakfast time here. Come to think of it, why not tacos for breakfast?

    • I have made breakfast tacos before…and blogged it. Delicious. Thanks for stopping by Sam

  9. Nice.

    I agree w/ Vickie, dig the pit and do some goats and pigs. Yaks too. I’ve heard that the Highlands Ranch arial surveillance cameras will bipass Yak roasting in backyard pits if those new outdoor wood-fire dissipation filters have been installed , because apparently it’s become trendy to have gourmet yak feasts in these upscale suburbs…

    That “Mexican joint at 7th and Santa Fe” makes tacos every known way on the planet. And with every known meat or other animal body part. The place rules.

    Your recipe looks absolutely splended. 1/4 cup Cocal Cola…I’m in.

    • Too funny!

      We need to quit talking about that “Mexican joint at 7th and Santa Fe” and GO!

  10. OMG these tacos look fabulous! I really like the sauce that you made for these tacos too. I must be hiding in the sand as I have not heard yet about the Tacos Pastor. of course, I have read your post and will suddenly see it everywhere.

    Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

    • That’s exactly how it works Velva…selective perception.


  11. The tacos look great. I’ve never heard of Tacos Pastor. They sound really tasty!

  12. I’ve not heard of these, but they sound interesting – especially as I try to move beyond my paradigms of what flavors go together and I believe I have some pulled pork in the freezer. Also I’m always on the hunt for a new red sauce.

    • That red sauce is pretty strong…I’d be careful what I paired it with.

  13. You’re killing me over here! Our Mexican and Tex/Mex in Charlotte is non existent. This looks like something I’d find back in my old stomping grounds in Texas. I will definitely be trying this one. Yum yum yum!!

    • I’m definitely feeling your pain over no Mexican. We only have a handful of restaurants who serve some authentic Mexican dishes. SO good.

  14. drooling….

  15. Great looking recipe! Very tasty sounding rojo sauce. I’ll have to give it a try on the BGE. Last time I had tacos al pastor they were being carved from a trompo bigger than me at the Carnaval in Cozumel.

    • waaa….I want tacos al pastor carved from a trompo bigger than you at the Carnaval in Cozumel. 🙂 Would love to try the real deal.

      • 🙂 We watched these guys loading pork onto the spit all morning and knew we had to come back later when it was ready. But I’m thinking the crockpot approach is sure a lot more feasible.

  16. Those would be perfect to eat while watching a football game.

  17. I’m really intrigued by the sauce with cola in it! I’m also delighted because there is no tomato in it. I’m definitely going to have to try this one!

    • I didn’t even think about the lack of tomato! You should google it and take a look at a few different sauce recipes. I think this was a combination of three different recipes. 🙂

  18. How can you go wrong with slow roasted pork! Your sauce really puts this over the top. I’m thinking this is going to be a wonderful additon to our tailgating!

    • mmmm this would be good tailgating food.

  19. Wow, these tacos look awesome, and sure I can have at anytime…great pictures!

  20. Wow, I have never heard of that recipe before, I am dying to try it, all my favorite flavors!

  21. I’ve got a few versions of this and was going to try Steven Raichlen’s in the next week, trying to use the rotisserie. Hopefully mine will turn out as good as yours.

  22. That looks great. I was about to make these type of tacos but I couldn’t find a good recipe. Thank you for sharing this.

  23. […] One Year Ago:  Tacos al Pastor […]

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