Tacos al Pastor
To start off this post, I’ll spare you my angry rantings and simply share this quote from Sari Kamin, host of Food Without Borders Radio: “You shouldn’t get to denounce immigrants and still eat their food.” Coming from an immigrant family, I do my best to honor our neighbor’s different cultures with set intentions and appropriateness, so this quote definitely hit home for me.
I also do my best to share these moments with friends and family that feel the same way. No matter how much you try to stray from it, at the end of the day, food is political. Deep down, food culture involves politics, classism, and spans different races and cultures. It also connects us in a more intimate way than most.
That being said, Cinco de Mayo is somewhat of a loaded holiday for me, at least based on what I’ve been exposed to where I live and what it’s become here. I don’t like celebrating in public and being bombarded by non-Mexicans wearing sombrero hats, donning fake mustaches, face-painted sugar skulls, and gritando when they don’t know the true meaning behind the culture that they’re wrongly appropriating. Very, very hard pass.
I prefer to stay at home with good food, good drinks, and friends that like celebrating the way I do. Last year, this dish was created and it’s my go-to for taco nights. And my take on my favorite kind of taco: al pastor. Sweet and spicy, thanks to chipotle peppers and chunks of pineapple, this pork gets super tender by marinating overnight (which I recommend).
Once you have the marinade all done, it takes nothing but a quick sear in a cast iron skillet to have dinner on the table. Served in warm, corn tortillas (because real tacos are only made with corn tortillas), white onion, and lots of chopped cilantro, these babies will be in your dinner rotation for your loved ones in no time!
Al Pastor Tacos
Cook time: overnight marinade and 20 minutes active time
3 lbs boneless ribeye pork chops, cut into small chunks
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 packet Goya Sazón con Achiote
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 7.5oz can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
1 20oz can pineapple tidbits in juice, drained (use the juice for the marinade)
Small corn tortillas, toasted, for serving
White onion, diced, for serving
Cilantro, chopped, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving
In a large mixing bowl, liberally season the pork with kosher salt and black pepper. Then add the ground coriander, ground cumin, dried oregano, granulated garlic, sazón packet, and light brown sugar. Next, add the chipotle peppers and their sauce, tossing well to make sure all of the meat is covered.
Now with the pineapple, set aside the tidbits of fruit to use with the pork when cooking the actual meat the next day. You’re going to want to use just the juice to pour over the marinated meat.
Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap or put the meat into a large ziptop bag to marinate overnight in the fridge. The next day, drain any excess liquid from the meat and let the pork come to room temperature before searing. This will allow you to develop a nice crust on the pork chunks.
In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, sear the pork chunks and pineapple tidbits in small batches. This will help prevent steaming and excess liquid being released from the meat and fruit if you overcrowd the pan. Cook the pork until it’s cooked through and crispy on the outside, about 7-10 minutes depending on how large you cut the chunks. Set aside.
For serving, make sure to have warm, corn tortillas ready. To toast the corn tortillas, do so in a dry frying pan until each side is toasted to your liking. Top the tacos with diced white onion and freshly chopped cilantro. Squeeze some lime over it and hit it with your favorite hot sauce to enjoy!