A delicious mix of sweet and savory, tangy and spicy, this is what you get with al pastor tacos. Al pastor is made traditionally with marinated pork that’s cooked on a vertical skewer, known as a trompo. The pork is mixed with pineapple and then slow roasted to perfection. Let’ see if we can make it at home!
Let’s Prep It Up
The secret to a delicious al pastor is the marinade for the pork. Most of the ingredients are readily available, except for one. The most important ingredient is achiote paste. It’s a mix of different herbs and spices in a pasty form. Unfortunately, most big box grocery stores don’t carry it. You will have to look for it at smaller Mexican markets or on Amazon. The achiote paste is then mixed with the rest of ingredients to make the marinade liquid.
For the pork, a boneless pork shoulder works best. Cut it by hand into thin slices, maybe 1/4-1/2″ thick and cover them with the marinade liquid. You can probably ask the butcher to do it for you as well.
Don’t worry too much about the extra fat. Most of it will render down and provide additional moisture and flavor while it cooks.
After the pork is sliced, cover it with the marinade liquid and put it in the fridge overnight. That marinade needs time to fully penetrate the pork and give it maximum flavor.
The other unique thing about al pastor, is how it’s cooked. It is traditionally cooked on a vertical skewer called a trompo. This allows the meat the self baste as it cooks. All the juices that drip down the skewer keep the meat moist and flavorful.
I like using the Trompo King vertical skewer for my al pastor. I start with a slice of pineapple on the bottom of the skewer and then I stack on the pork. Make sure to press the pork slices in tight and stack to the top.
Time To Hit The Grill
After the trompo is stacked full of the porky deliciousness, it’s time to hit the grill. I cook these at indirect heat, between 325-350 degrees. The cook time will depend on how much pork is on the trompo, but it will still take a few hours.
The pork should cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 200-205 degrees. Cooking to temperature will ensure it’s cooked properly. My personal favorite is the Thermapen from Thermoworks. This will make the pork very tender and ideal for tacos. As much as you’ll want to slice into it right away, let it rest! Just like any other protein, the cooked pork will need a good 10-15 minutes rest to let all the juices redistribute.
It’s Taco Time
Here we go, the best part is just ahead. Slice the pork from the trompo, staring up and cutting down. Keep cutting around the trompo until everything is sliced off.
Dice up the pineapples as well and mix it all together. And trust me, that slow roaster pineapple mixed with the pork juices will be delicious!
But the pork with pineapple won’t be enough. We still need toppings for our al pastor tacos. I like to keep it simple and use only cilantro and onion and salsa verde. You don’t need much else with these. The pork is the star of this taco party and we want it to shine.
Start with a warm tortilla, add the pork with some pineapple pieces and top with cilantro, onion and the salsa. And that’s it! Sweet and delicious al pastor tacos.
Check out the prep video below from my Instagram page. A printer friendly recipe is below as well.
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Al Pastor Tacos
- 4-6 lb Boneless pork shoulder
- 1 Pineapple
- 3/4 cup White vinegar
- 1/4 cup Water
- 3 tbsp Achiote paste
- 2 tbsp Guajillo chili powder
- 2 tbsp Cumin
- 2 tbsp Garlic powder
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Pepper
- 1 White onion diced
- 1 bunch cilantro diced
- 10 Tortillas
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth
- Hand slice the pork shoulder into 1/2-1/4" thick pieces
- Cover the sliced pork with the marinade and let sit in refrigerator overnight
- Next day, slice the pineapple into 1" thick slices
- Skewer the pork on a vertical skewer and cook on the grill indirect, at 325-350 degrees
- Pull the pork when the internal temperature in the thickest part reaches 200-205 degrees
- Slice the pork from the trompo skewer vertically
- Assamble the taco with the pork and pineapple mix, top with the cilantro and onion mix and your favorite salsa
Check out the Recipe page for other tasty dishes.