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Tacos al Pastor

Cook Time:
5 mins
Prep Time:
1 hr 35 mins

Chef notes

If there is one dish associated with Mexico City, it would be tacos al pastor. These are to Mexico what cheesesteaks are to Philadelphia and poutine is to Montreal. It's arguably the only authentic Mexico City street food. I love this recipe because it reminds me of home.

Technique tips: For the salsa verde, choose the smallest tomatillos you can find, tightly encased in their papery skins. This salsa is excellent served hot or cold. It can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If you want your sauce to be spicier, do not remove the chile serrano veins.

Swap option: Chicken or fish instead of pork.

Special equipment: Comal, griddle or nonstick skillet.


Adobo Chiles Rojos (makes 2 cups)
  • 4 cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded and toasted
  • 1 ancho chile, stemmed, seeded and toasted
  • 1 guajillo chile, stemmed, seeded and toasted
  • 1 pasilla chile, stemmed, seeded and toasted
  • 2 chiles de árbol, stemmed, seeded and veins removed
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, cored
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground achiote (annatto) seeds
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • tablespoon sea salt, plus more as needed
Salsa Verde (makes 3 cups)
  • 10 small tomatillos, papery husks removed and discarded, rinsed and cut in half
  • 2-4 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and veins removed
  • 1 small white onion, half left intact and the other half minced
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Tacos al Pastor
  • 2-3 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into thin slices, or chicken, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 cup Adobo de Chiles Rojos (recipe above)
  • 1 cup small pineapple chunks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 8-12 tortillas de maiz
  • 1 small white onion, finely minced
  • 4 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely minced
  • Salsa Verde (recipe above)


For the Adobo Chiles Rojos:


Place the cascabel, ancho, guajillo and pasilla chiles in a saucepan and cover with 1 cup of water over low heat.


Bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat, cover the pan and let the chiles soak and soften for 15 minutes.


Blend the chiles with their soaking water, the chile de árbol, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cloves, oil, orange juice, lime juice, achiote seeds, cumin, oregano and salt, pureeing until smooth.


Taste and add more salt if needed.

For the Salsa Verde:


Combine the tomatillos, chiles, intact onion half, garlic and salt in a medium saucepan.


Add water just to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.


Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer gently over low heat until reduced by about one-third, about 10 minutes.


Add the minced onion and cilantro to the cooked salsa and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if needed.

For the Tacos al Pastor:


Rub the slices of pork with the salt and then place them in a bowl, cover with the adobo sauce and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.


For the caramelized pineapple chunks: In a skillet over medium heat, cook the pineapple with the butter and the sugar, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, until the chunks are translucent but not falling apart. Set aside while cooking pork.


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering.


Add the marinated pork in its marinade and cook at a low simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. You want some of the marinade to cook off so it's not too wet.


On an ungreased comal or in a small skillet, warm the tortillas and place in a basket or a box with a lid to keep warm.


Serve the pork and pineapple with the tortillas and bowls with onion, cilantro, lime wedges and salsa to spoon on as garnishes.