Tacos al Pastor: Delicious Pastor meat and grilled pineapple pico wrapped in a hot grilled tortilla. This tacos al pastor recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a summer night barbecue. It is easier than traditional and uses easy to find ingredients.
These pastor tacos are delicious and simple, perfect for a fun meal with friends and family. If you want the tasty flavors of pork al pastor tacos, but don’t want to soak chilies, or visit a specialty store for ingredients, or roast on a spit, this is the recipe for you. All the flavor, with a few simple short-cuts. These pork al pastor tacos are the ideal #TacoTuesday meal, or great any night of the week.
As you guys know, I am obsessed with food, and love when I find really great restaurants. One of my favorite little hole in the wall places to eat is called Chunga’s. They have this great al pastor spit, and make the best Tacos al pastor. They thinly slice the meat, and the pineapple, and it is luscious and delicious. But it is also an hour from my house. So I am not getting there very often. So I decided it was high time I came up with my own version of Tacos al Pastor, that I can make at home.
I have provided instructions for three ways of cooking:
- Instant Pot
But you could also pop these in a slow cooker for a developed flavor, and a tender fall apart pork roast!
What are tacos al pastor made of?
The simple answer to this question is pork, roasted in a delicious sauce, and a pineapple pico.
Traditional tacos al pastor are made of pork that is slow roasted on a spit and marinaded the whole time for added flavor. The carne al pastor is then sliced off the spit and served wrapped inside a warm tortilla, usually with sliced pineapple that cooked alongside the carne.
In this al pastor recipe, the pork is prepared in an oven, on a grill, or in an instant pot instead of slow cooked on a spit. I don’t know about you guys, but I do not have a spit, so I used what I had to emulate the amazing flavors of tacos al pastor, without the extra work. So, while they are not prepared in the traditional method, these tacos al pastor are still delicious and flavorful like the dish they are based on.
What does taco al pastor mean?
Al pastor means “shepherd style” in spanish. What is al pastor? It is a style of dish and a method of preparation. Tacos al pastor are called that because they are a traditional Mexican dish. However, over time, the name has stuck, and is indicative of the flavor profile, roasted pork marinaded in a rich chili sauce, and grilled pineapple.
While these tacos are not prepared in the traditional methods, they still have a delicious traditional flavor. This modern take on a classic dish is easier than the traditional methods, but just as delicious.
So, keep in mind I am not trying to offend any cultures here, or pretend to be making a traditional version. This is my take, and my way of getting this tasty flavor profile in an instant pot, oven, or on my grill, since I don’t have a spit.
What is the difference between carnitas and al pastor?
While this dish is similar to carnitas in a lot of ways, it is different, and those differences are important to note. Carnitas are usually cooked in their own fat either roasted in the oven or fried, then the edges are crisped in a broiler. However, tacos de pastor are normally slow roasted on a vertical rotisserie, and marinated in a rich chili sauce. Of course, you can cook them in an oven, instant pot, or grill as well.
Additionally, Tacos al pastor (sometimes called tacos el pastor), are usually served with a roasted pineapple, that is often roasted on the same spit. For this recipe, that pineapple is made into a delicious pico using cilantro and onion, and is served on top of the marinaded roasted meat for a flight, flavorful twist.
What would go well with tacos al pastor?
While these tasty pork tacos are a meal all their own, they are also great served with the following:
Also, make serving these tacos easy with this stainless steel taco holder.
- 5 lbs pork shoulder
- 1/4 cup guajillo chile powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano preferably Mexican
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 garlic cloves halved
- 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup distilled vinegar
- 1 onion
- 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple diced
- 1 bunch cilantro
- Corn or flour tortillas
- Add marinade ingredients to a blender and blend until everything is pureed and smooth.
- Trim fat from the pork shoulder and slice meat into small chunks or thin slices.
- Put pork and marinade in a large zip top bag, or container that can be sealed, massage bag to make sure all of the pork is covered in the marinade mixture.
- Marinade overnight (or minimum 8 hours)
Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Method:
- Place marinated pork and remaining marinade in the Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker).
- Cover with lid, and lock lid into place.
- Set valve to sealing.
- Press (Manual) and set cooking time to 65 minutes at the High Pressure
- When done, let pressure naturally release for at least 15 minutes, then place pork in a 11x13" baking pan.
- Heat oven to 225 degrees F.
- Roast uncovered for 1 hour in 225°F oven to render fat and crisp up edges.
- Heat oven to 225 degrees F.
- Remove pork from marinade and place in an 11 x 13 inch baking pan.
- Roast at 225°F covered with aluminum foil for 4-5 hours.
- Remove the aluminum foil and roasting for an additional hour until fork tender.
- Set grill to a low to medium low heat (275 degrees).
- Place meat in a covered aluminum pan, and place on grill and cook for 4 hours, make sure the grill maintains an even 275 degree heat.
- After 4 hours, check meat, if not quite fork tender, uncover and cook up to an additional hour.
- Grill tortillas until warm and slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side.
- Grill pineapple until warm and slightly charred, about 5-7 minutes.
- Mix salsa together by dicing grilled pineapple and finely chopping onion and cilantro, then stir together.
- Serve meat in small tortillas topped with pineapple salsa and a squeeze of lime juice and hot sauce if desired.
Slow Cooker Method:
- Place marinated pork and remaining marinade in the Crock pot or slow Cooker.
- Cover with lid, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Once time is up, place pork in a 11x13" baking pan.
- Heat oven to broil, and broil for 3-5 minutes to crisp up edges.
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