Tacos al Pastor | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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An acid-sharp pineapple salsa balances the spices in this broiled version of a central Mexican classic
Milk Street Bowtie Tacos al Pastor

Tacos al Pastor

1 hour

Tacos al Pastor

Free

Lebanese immigrants introduced shawarma to Mexico in the 19th century and eventually tacos al pastor came to be. The dish consists of chili-seasoned spit-roasted pork shaved into thin slices and served, along with chopped pineapple, onion and cilantro, in corn tortillas. For our weeknight version, we use pork tenderloin that has been pounded, briefly marinated and broiled. A salsa of broiled onion and pineapple completes the tacos. For some extra color and crunch, offer finely shredded red cabbage for sprinkling.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t use more than a total of 6 pineapple slices (2 in the puree and 4 for broiling), as excess will throw off the flavor balance. A whole pineapple will yield more than 6 slices, so save the rest for another use.

1 hour

1 pineapple, peeled
1/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for baking sheet
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled
4 chipotle chilies in adobo and the sauce clinging to them
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 1¼-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
2 tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve
1 small white or red onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 corn tortillas, warmed
Ingredients
  • 1

    pineapple, peeled

  • ¼

    cup grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for baking sheet

  • 8

    medium garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4

    chipotle chilies in adobo and the sauce clinging to them

  • 4

    teaspoons ground cumin

  • 4

    teaspoons ancho chili powder

  • ¼

    cup packed dark brown sugar

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 1

    1¼-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin

  • 2

    tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve

  • 1

    small white or red onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds

  • ½

    cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 8

    corn tortillas, warmed

Directions
  1. 01
    Cut six ½-inch-thick rounds from the pineapple. Quarter 2 of the slices and add to a food processor or blender. Add the oil, garlic, chilies, cumin, ancho powder, brown sugar and 4 teaspoons salt. Process or blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Reserve ½ cup of the puree and set aside.
  2. 02
    Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil. Using a chef's knife, slice the tenderloin in half lengthwise, stopping about ½ inch shy of cutting all the way through. Open up the tenderloin like a book and place it between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, gently pound the pork to an even ½-inch thickness. Transfer to 1 of the prepared baking sheets and season both sides with salt and pepper. Spread half of the reserved pineapple puree on top, flip the pork and spread with the remaining reserved puree. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pour the remaining puree into a small bowl, stir in 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and set aside for serving.
  3. 03
    Meanwhile, heat the broiler to high with a rack 4 inches from the element. Lightly coat the second prepared baking sheet with oil. Arrange 4 of the remaining pineapple slices and the onion slices in a single layer on the baking sheet and broil until charred in spots, 7 to 10 minutes; the onion should retain some crunch. Transfer the pineapple and onion to a cutting board and set aside.
  4. 04
    Broil the tenderloin until charred in spots and the center reaches 140°F or is just barely pink when cut, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut the pork lengthwise into 2-inch-wide strips, then cut crosswise into thin slices. Transfer to a medium bowl and pour in any accumulated juices. Add 3 tablespoons of the pineapple puree and stir to combine. Tent with foil.
  5. 05
    Chop the broiled onion and pineapple into ½-inch pieces. Add to a small bowl along with the cilantro and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Toss, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve the pork, the onion-pineapple salsa and the remaining reserved pineapple puree with tortillas and lime wedges.
Tip: Don’t use more than a total of 6 pineapple slices (2 in the puree and 4 for broiling), as excess will throw off the flavor balance. A whole pineapple will yield more than 6 slices, so save the rest for another use.
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Tacos al Pastor

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4

Servings

1 hour

Tip

Don’t use more than a total of 6 pineapple slices (2 in the puree and 4 for broiling), as excess will throw off the flavor balance. A whole pineapple will yield more than 6 slices, so save the rest for another use.

Ingredients
  • 1

    pineapple, peeled

  • ¼

    cup grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for baking sheet

  • 8

    medium garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4

    chipotle chilies in adobo and the sauce clinging to them

  • 4

    teaspoons ground cumin

  • 4

    teaspoons ancho chili powder

  • ¼

    cup packed dark brown sugar

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 1

    1¼-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin

  • 2

    tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve

  • 1

    small white or red onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds

  • ½

    cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 8

    corn tortillas, warmed

Step 1 of 5

Process the puree

1
pineapple, peeled
¼
cup grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for baking sheet
8
medium garlic cloves, peeled
4
chipotle chilies in adobo and the sauce clinging to them
4
teaspoons ground cumin
4
teaspoons ancho chili powder
¼
cup packed dark brown sugar
4
teaspoons kosher salt

Cut six ½-inch-thick rounds from the pineapple. Quarter 2 of the slices and add to a food processor or blender. Add the oil, garlic, chilies, cumin, ancho powder, brown sugar and 4 teaspoons salt.


Process or blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Reserve ½ cup of the puree and set aside.

Step 2 of 5

Marinate the pork

1
1¼-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1
tablespoon lime juice

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil. Using a chef's knife, slice the tenderloin in half lengthwise, stopping about ½ inch shy of cutting all the way through.


Open up the tenderloin like a book and place it between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, gently pound the pork to an even ½-inch thickness. Transfer to 1 of the prepared baking sheets and season both sides with salt and pepper.


Spread half of the reserved pineapple puree on top, flip the pork and spread with the remaining reserved puree. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.


Pour the remaining puree into a small bowl, stir in 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and set aside for serving.

Step 3 of 5

Char the pineapple and onion

1
small white or red onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds

Meanwhile, heat the broiler to high with a rack 4 inches from the element. Lightly coat the second prepared baking sheet with oil.


Arrange 4 of the remaining pineapple slices and the onion slices in a single layer on the baking sheet and broil until charred in spots, 7 to 10 minutes; the onion should retain some crunch. Transfer the pineapple and onion to a cutting board and set aside.

Step 4 of 5

Broil the tenderloin

Broil the tenderloin until charred in spots and the center reaches 140°F or is just barely pink when cut, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.


Cut the pork lengthwise into 2-inch-wide strips, then cut crosswise into thin slices. Transfer to a medium bowl and pour in any accumulated juices. Add 3 tablespoons of the pineapple puree and stir to combine. Tent with foil.

Step 5 of 5

Make the salsa and serve

½
cup chopped fresh cilantro
1
tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges, to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
8
corn tortillas, warmed

Chop the broiled onion and pineapple into ½-inch pieces. Add to a small bowl along with the cilantro and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Toss, then taste and season with salt and pepper.


Serve the pork, the onion-pineapple salsa and the remaining reserved pineapple puree with tortillas and lime wedges.

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