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Tacos al Pastor

2010/01/10

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten really good Mexican food. Aside from the odd pupusa, taco, or tamale from Perola’s in Kensington Market, nothing has scratched the itch since my trips to Chicago in the summer when I had dinner at Mixteco and lunch at Topolobampo. Unfortunately there isn’t much in the way of decent Mexican food in this city. Because of that fact, a friend and I decided to prepare a little Mexican feast last weekend.

Most of the ingredients were purchased in Kensington. La Tortilleria has an outpost there and fresh corn tortillas and chips are available every morning. Perola’s was the source for a majority of the remaining items: Serrano chiles, achiote paste, chipotle chiles en adobo, tomatillos, dried chipotle chiles, salsa de aji, Oaxacan cheese, etc.

Recipes for chipotle-tomatillo salsa and grilled pork al pastor were pulled from Rick Bayless’ website. Rick has plenty of great recipes online so it’s an excellent resource if you’re looking to cook anything with a Mexican influence.

The salsa was quite simple to make. The only variation from Rick’s recipe was that I charred the tomatillos on my barbeque to add an extra bit of smokiness to the salsa and make them easier to peel. After pulling them from the grill I put them in a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap to steam in the same way one would with roasted red peppers. The peeled tomatillos were then cored and blitzed in a food processor with roasted onions and garlic, rehydrated chipotle chiles (stemmed and seeded), salt, and lime juice.

Moving on to the pork, I asked my butcher to slice bone-in shoulder into pieces 1/2″ thick. It was marinated for 6-7 hours in a mixture of achiote paste, chipotle chiles en adobo, vegetable oil and a bit of water to thin it out.

Guacamole

Guacamole

Before we chowed down on the tacos, my friend made a delicious guacamole to go with the aforementioned chips from La Tortilliera. Avocado, red onion, Serrano chiles, lime juice, and healthy dose of cilantro were mashed together just enough to still leave a chunky texture. Even though there were a lot of tacos to come we couldn’t help but eat the whole bowl!

Grilled pork "al pastor"

Grilled pork "al pastor"

After allowing the pork to come to room temperature, I grilled it over high heat for a couple minutes a side. Note the juices that pooled in the bowl while the meat was allowed to rest. Not wanting that deliciousness to go to waste, I trimmed the skin and fat from the pork, sliced it, and added it back to the juices.

Tacos al pastor

Tacos al pastor

With all the hard work done, it was simply down to assembly and eating. We used thicker tortillas for the tacos as they don’t get soggy when loaded with ingredients. A griddle was used to warm the tortillas, make them more pliable, and melt the shredded Oaxacan cheese. The grilled pork and a spoonful of softened onions were the only other things added. The tacos were served with salsa de aji, chipotle-tomatillo salsa, fresh cilantro and limes as garnish. Expletives are the only words that do justice to how amazing the tacos al pastor were. Amazing, delicious, fantastic – not good enough. They were so good that leftovers were served for lunch the following day!

Mexican "lasagna"

Mexican "lasagna"

As hungry as we were, there was still a lot of pork left over. What to do with it? My friend had a fantastic brainstorm to make a “lasagna” of tortillas layered with grilled pork, Oaxacan cheese, black beans, and salsa. Baked at 375F until the cheese was melted and browned a little, it was finished with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and served with more salsa de aji and chipotle-tomatillo salsa. Check it out:

Mexican "lasagna"

Mexican "lasagna"

As you can see, it was another epic weekend of eating. I still wish there were restaurants in Toronto that prepared fantastic, authentic Mexican food, but considering how simple these dishes were to prepare, who needs them!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Oakville_al permalink
    2010/01/11 11:24 AM

    Man those look good!! Can I order Take-Out?
    What beer did you wash them down with?

    • futronic permalink*
      2010/01/12 3:09 PM

      I couldn’t find any Dos Equis so it was Brahma and Sol instead.

  2. 2010/02/17 11:38 PM

    I am from Mexico and believe me those look like real tacos!!!! If you like mexican food I will have to share with you my mexican sweet bread “conchas”!!…

    • futronic permalink*
      2010/02/22 7:48 PM

      Thanks Maria! The tacos were absolutely fantastic. If you want to send me the recipe for conchas, you can get my email address from the “Contact” link at the upper-right of the page.

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