Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Slow-Cooker Tacos al Pastor

In Mexico, traditional al pastor is made by stacking ultra-thin slices of chile-marinated pork shoulder on a vertical spit, topped with a pineapple and an onion or two. As the spit slowly turns in front of a fire, the juices from the pineapple and onion drip down onto the meat, which turns crispy outside and tender inside as it cooks.

I don’t have a vertical spit or a vertical grill. But I do have a slow cooker. The finished pork may lack the outer crispiness of authentic Mexican al pastor, but it’s not lacking in lip-smacking flavor and tender texture.

You can serve the pastor with just chopped pineapple, onions, cilantro, and lime wedges, but a spicy, smoky dried-chile sauce like ranchero seriously kicks it up a notch.

Note: I made this recipe using the slow cooker on high for a while, then finishing on low. If you won’t be around to make the switch, cook the al pastor on low for about 8 hours, and go about your business.  

Makes 10-12 tacos

  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 3-lb pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pineapple, top and bottom trimmed
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 small onion, quartered, plus 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • corn or flour tortillas, coarsely chopped cilantro, and lime wedges, for serving
  • ranchero sauce, for serving (optional)

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Add the pork and toss to coat evenly, then transfer to a slow cooker.

Spice Mixture

Spice-Rubbed Pork
Add Pork to Slow Cooker
  1. Stand the pineapple on a cutting board and, using a large knife, slice off the skin into 2-inch-wide strips. Rinse 4 strips under cold water and set aside. 
  2. Core the pineapple and small-dice the flesh. Reserve 1/2 and add the remaining 1/2 to the slow cooker, along with the garlic cloves, quartered onion, broth, and vinegar.
  3. Lay the rinsed pineapple skins cut-side down on top of the slow-cooker ingredients. 
Remove Skins from the Pineapple

Dice the Pineapple

Pineapple Mixture Added

Lay Pineapple Skins on Top
Cook on high 3-1/2 hours. Turn the cooker to low and cook until the meat is fork-tender and pulls apart easily, about 2 hours longer. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a platter or large bowl and shred with two forks, discarding fat.

Serve the pork with the tortillas, chopped onions, reserved diced pineapple, cilantro, lime wedges, and (if using) ranchero sauce. 

Slow-Cooker Tacos al Pastor

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