Tacos al Pastor

August 13, 2012

 

 

It was a sad day this past week at the T. house.  Our sweet summer resident from Torreon, Mexico, Paola, had to pack her bags and return home. Both the girls and I moped and sulked around for days. We’re going to miss her so much; she filled our house with fun and giggles and sunshine.

Paola was an easy girl to host–she’s not a picky eater and was eager to try anything “new” at the dinner table. I love a guest like that. One thing Paola did not do, unlike the summer students we’ve hosted in the past, was request a dish that she craved/missed from home.  Those former requests forced me to spread my wings a little, do some research, and get busy in the kitchen. But our laid-back Paola just let me rest on my laurels*–and rest I did.  This has been the Summer of Sandwich. What can I say? It’s been hella hot and I am a lazy slob.

I did make one thing from Paola’s neck of the woods this summer, but not because she asked for it.  I was over at one of my favorite hangouts, Velva’s blog Tomatoes on the Vine, and noticed a delicious recipe for Tacos al Pastor.  What struck me about the recipe–aside from the mouth-watering picture accompanying it–was the inclusion of pineapple in the tacos. Pineapple as taco topping? Weird! But I like weird!

I asked Paola and she confirmed that yes, many folks in Mexico put pineapple on their tacos. Paola said her favorite rendition of Tacos al Pastor included grilled pineapple, and since we’re all about the grill during the summer, I thought it would be fun to re-create them at home.

Using Velva’s recipe as a starting point, I attacked my leaning tower of food rags, looking for similar recipes.  I found several, and all of them were a little different, but the basics were the same: marinated and grilled meat, fresh toppings, at least one kind of salsa (some of the recipes had 3 kinds of salsa/topping, and I wasn’t going there. I’m lazy.)

So, I just decided to putter around and put my own little spin on Tacos al Pastor. Paula’s favorite protein in tacos happens to be pork, so that choice was easy. We like things spicy, so I put some heat in both the marinade and the salsa. I’m an avocado freak, so I had to have some kind of avocado element in the recipe. Corn tortillas, not flour. Obviously, grilled pineapple.

But then I decided that we needed just a leeettle more freak factor in our tacos, so I brushed my pineapple with a rum and chile glaze. Because, you know, booze in food is awesome.

Ladies and gentlemen, pineapple in tacos is yummy! I liked how the smoky-sweet pineapple complemented the heat of the chiles, and grilled pork is, well, a very good thing.  So if you’re looking for a little adventure and weirdness in your life, I encourage you to make these. Feel free to tinker with the spice factor…or just about anything in this recipe. I seriously don’t think you can go wrong.

Summer’s winding down here. Paola’s return to school (and the minxes’ return this week) make me realize that fall is a-comin’, even though the weather’s still wearing summer colors.  Please send me your goodwill on Thursday, as Miss M. boards the bus for first grade. She’s a little nervous, and I’m a stinking wreck. I plan on spending at least several weeks bedridden, sucking my thumb in abject misery.  Miss M. has been my little partner in crime, my affable companion, my daily shot of sweetness…and now she’s off to full-day school. I can’t even type this without getting a bit weepy.

Damn school anyways. Those rotters, stealing my baby away. How dare they? Minx Bandits! Pixie Purloiners!

Did I mention that I’m a wreck?

Ah, well. I suppose I’ll adjust eventually. Send the Valium Salt Lick. And some tacos.

Tacos al Pastor

serves 6 generously

 

Marinade:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (trust me)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

 

2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each, trimmed of silver skin

 

Salsa:

  • 2 cups purchased tomatillo salsa (you can use regular if you can’t find tomatillo, but the color of your salsa will be murky)
  • 3 large ripe avocados,  mashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Topping:

  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons good rum
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Warm corn tortillas

Lime wedges

Shredded cabbage or lettuce, if desired

 

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal and shake to combine. Add pork tenderloins. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours, turning the bag occasionally.

Oil your grill to keep the pineapple from sticking. Heat grill to medium. Grill the pineapple rings with the lid opened for 4-6 minutes, flipping once, or until nice char marks form. Remove from grill. Mix together rum, honey and cayenne. Brush on warm pineapple slices. Chop pineapple when cool.

Put the lid on the grill and continue heating on medium.

Remove pork from marinade and pat dry. Let pork stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Grill pork, with the lid closed, until evenly seared and the centers are barely pink, about 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. The internal temperature of the pork should be 150 degrees when fully cooked.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 8-10 minutes before slicing.

Mash the avocadoes with the lime juice. Add the rest of the salsa ingredients and mix well.

Heat the corn tortillas in a foil pouch in the oven until warm.

Slice the pork thinly.

Build tacos with a layer of pork, a dollop of salsa and some of the grilled pineapple. Serve with lime wedges for serving and shredded cabbage/lettuce, if desired.

 

*Where did that phrase come from, anyways? “Resting on my laurels…” I’d look it up, but I’m {ahem} lazy.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer August 13, 2012 at 8:52 am

I love the taste of pineapple, but I can’t just eat it. Texture issues. (I’m so weird.)

That pork looks divine.

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:02 am

Jennifer,

It is the strings that stick in your teeth? If you grill it, it’s not stringy like that! Weird, I know. As a girl with MANY texture issues, I get it though.

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Dana August 13, 2012 at 9:19 am

Mmmm, grilled pineapple on a taco you say. That sounds delish!

Do you make your tortillas? I’ve been eyeing up tortilla presses and would love any advice you have if you do.

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TKW August 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Dana, heck no, I don’t make my own tortillas. I’m lazy, you know. ;)

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Dana August 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm

The ones I buy never look that good. :P

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:03 am

Dana,

That’s because I got mine at the Mexican market! And yes, they were tons better.

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Jenna August 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

Oooh . . . tacos al pastor are my FAVORITE kind. There’s a great place down the street from my office that has THE best tacos al pastor in Chicago, I’m convinced (it’s called Tony’s Burrito Mex).
And Miss M’s leap into first grade–wow. Big changes!! Just keep a box of kleenex handy. And a bottle of hooch.

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TKW August 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Jenna,

I can’t stop crying this week and it’s only Monday. Hoo-boy. I am in for a big shift in the foundation.

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Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri August 13, 2012 at 10:35 am

My daughter started 1st grade today. I completely understand. Good luck to Miss M and her Momma too!

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TKW August 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Rudri,

How did you do?

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The Meaning of Me August 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Uh, delicious I think. We are on a taco and quesadilla frenzy right now…may have to try this for next week. Had Caramelized Pineapple Quesadillas with Spicy Strawberry Salsa last week (from How Sweet it Is) and tonight trying Crock Pot Beef Carnitas Tacos (from Eat Live Run). Your Tacos al Pastor may be on the list for next week – love! Pineapple and beef sounds good to me.

Good luck to you and Miss M. with school! :)

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

The Meaning of Me,

If you like carnitas, go to the Food Network Website and find Tyler Florence’s recipe for carnitas. It is CRAZY good. I made them a few years ago and they’re my go-to for football season.

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Kate August 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Pineapple and pork – you can’t go wrong. Yummy yum yum. And of course corn tortillas.

As for the thumb sucking – I’m with you. We’re off to second grade (with new teachers and principal and her BFF moved too) and preschool (give me strength). I’m fearing the whirlwind that is the fall. Time is too too fast.

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TKW August 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Kate,

I know! How did this happen? I can’t believe I’m losing her. We’ve been giving lots of extra hugs and cuddles…which might make me more of a mess when she’s gone. First cut is the deepest, right?

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Sherri August 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Luscious – yummy. Summer passages – so bittersweet. Happy travels to Miss Paola. And… good luck to you and Miss M. My two boys are now first and second graders, and I can hardly believe it. I still miss them palling around with me. Just me and my Lil now – one more year before kindergarten. Then…. I have to send the oldest off to college! Ugh. Anyway – your after school time with her will still be fun. You can have some really great autumn afternoons together :).

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TKW August 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Sherri,

You have a blended and interesting family like us! Awesome Stepkid R. is 19 and Miss M. is entering first grade. It’s a wild ride, but worth it. At least I hope so.

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Sherri August 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm

OMG – is awesome stepkid R 19 already? When I first started reading you and conversing with you, he was but a high schooler (sniff). (does he still have the awesome girlfriend who likes game of thrones :). I digress). Time is odd, eh? Sometimes it feels like one kid is a preschooler forever – or it took the other forever to get to grade school, and yet….. one of them has to fly like the wind – like zip right through school – go from wee little one to big kid so fast (your Miss M :(. Anyway…. you still have her – and she’s still little – and, soon, this transition will feel so normal and OK :). Trust me. Hugs to you as you approach this biggie of a milestone.

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TKW August 14, 2012 at 9:43 am

Sherri,

Still with the awesome girlfriend! :)

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Katybeth August 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Sheesh I grew up in the southwest and forgot all about pineapple in tacos. Since we have taco’s about once a week I think I’ll spread my wings and try your recipe. Sounds yummy.
I was moaning about school sarting but then I left Cole (16 years old) and Rascal (Jack Russell) and a green marker in my car while I ran into the store and forgot to say, “Honey, please don’t color on the dog while I’m gone.” Rascal is now sporting green stripes down each side. Earlier in the day, I was presented with an awesome drawing that had been created using red spray paint. . .on my kitchen counter.
Ring the school bell already, dam it! :-D

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TKW August 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

Katybeth,

That is naughty! Spray paint on the counters? Eek!

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BigLittleWolf August 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Rum and chile glaze? Holy Tacomole. You’d get this little Momma trashed on that, but damn… I think I’d enjoy it!

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Naptimewriting August 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

My favorite taqueria makes a salsa de pina in which they used grilled pineapple and that they blend/strain so well there are no pineapple strings. I freaking LOVE it. On anything. Salad, chips, tacos, panini.

Thanks for the reminder about heat and pineapple. Shall I nauseate you and tell you my favorite pizza is pineapple and jalepeno?

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TKW August 14, 2012 at 9:48 am

Nap, that sounds great!

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:07 am

And also, you live in one of the greatest food towns in the nation. I am not surprised at all that you can get awesome, authentic tacos. *jealous*

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Foodiewife August 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Who are you kidding? It’s the rum that makes all the flavors work together. This does sound like something I love. Velva posts good recipes, and I know you can cook– though you downplay it. I’m next!

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:07 am

Debby,

That’s why I love you…you know the healing powers of rum.

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Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes August 14, 2012 at 5:06 am

Question : wat is a chipotle chile and what is adobo sauce. No, I’m not kidding, I’m Belgian. (And also lazy, since I could look this up myself I suppose…)

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TKW August 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

Tinne,

Chipotles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapenos. They’re spicy!!

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:09 am

Tinne,

If you can’t find ‘em, I’m happy to mail them to you. :)

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Arnebya August 14, 2012 at 5:23 am

I am an avocado freak as well. I want it on/with EVERYTHING. Just the thought of it with pineapple on a taco is making me salivate.

Z starts pre-K3 on 8/30. I am not ready. Even though he’s been in daycare, this is regular school. The big kid school. Him’s mah baby. The girls are in 7th and 4th grades. Every time I say that I look around for who said it because surely it wasn’t me.

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

Arnebya,

I know! My older one’s getting boobs! I’m terrified.

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Barbara August 14, 2012 at 5:36 am

Love Velva and her recipes! You did this one good!
I was an unnatural mother. I sat down and cheered when mine went to school for the first time. :)
Ditto college.
Freedom!
Sort of, because they’ll be your girls the rest of their lives.

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TKW August 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

Barbara,

I was fully ready for Miss D. to go–she has ADHD and was throughly bored with me. Maybe because this little chick is my last?

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elizabeth August 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I have two recommendations on dealing with the first day of having an empty house: a mimosa (or three) and watching either a movie or a miniseries that you otherwise wouldn’t–basically, treat yo’ self! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsABTmT1_M0). Were I able to send you a cannoli cake from Fairway, I would totally do it.

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

Elizabeth,

Minx 2 was up at 5:30 this morning. It’s back to school night and she wanted to go immediately to find out who her teacher is. I had to tell her that she had TWELVE whole hours to wait. #bringthemimosas

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Dawn August 15, 2012 at 9:20 am

She’s gonna make you so proud. And it’s OK to cry.

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TKW August 15, 2012 at 11:16 am

Thanks, Dawn.

She’s ready. Mama is not. It’s not okay to cry two weeks prior to even having to face the reality. As in, almost daily? I have no idea what’s wrong with me. I”m just hoping to make it through back-to-school-night this evening without becoming a puddle and humiliating myself! Thanks for the kind words.

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leslie August 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Yep…sending them off to school is a little bitter sweet!

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Heather August 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm

This sounds DELISH!!! It’s on my dinner menu for this weekend. Pretty sure the boys will turn up their noses at it but then it’s just more for me, right?!?! I was thinking about you on back to school day. We have full day kindergarten here so I was a mess sending Keegan off last year. This year I’m an old pro… Yeah, right. I’ll probably still be shedding a tear or two when the bus arrives this Thursday.

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