I hope I wasn't the only one who watched Anthony Bourdain's season opener of No Reservations where he and his crew visited Mexico City and Puebla and ate about a hundred tacos al pastor. After eating each one Bourdain would groan with such ecstasy, I was overcome with genuine taco jealously. I needed one.
This started out as the anti-Dinner Tonight. I figured I would find a ridiculous recipe that would require days of preparation, a marinade, and some contraption I hadn't yet built to roast the meat. But as I searched I kept hitting road blocks. Rick Bayless, my mentor for all things Mexican, didn't seem to have a recipe, and many of the sites that did have something looked dubious. I finally came across a little blurb that Rick Bayless had written for Epicurious where he professed his love for tacos al pastor before admitting that he's never given a recipe because it's nearly impossible to make at home. He does recommend Rubi's at the Maxwell Street Market (in Chicago suckers!), which I will have to check out.
But it's not all a downer. At the end he tosses away a simple recipe that he uses when he doesn't have much time but still wants that al pastor taste. And it really couldn't be much simpler: No marinade, just a quick dip in chipotle sauce and a sizzle on a grill. Definitely not the same tacos I had dreamed of, but still incredibly good and remarkably quick.
Shortcut Tacos al Pastor with Tomatillo and Chipotle Salsa
- 1 pound of pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1/2 can chipotle chiles in adobo
- 1/2 pineapple, peeled and sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 tomatillas, husk removed and sliced in half
- 12 tortillas
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatillos cut side down and toss in the garlic cloves. Cook for about 3 minutes, and then flip everything and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer ingredients to a blender or food processor. Add two of the chilies in adobo. Purée mixture until very smooth. Season with salt to taste. Then transfer to the fridge to cool while making the tacos.
Purée the remaining chipotle chiles along with the adobo sauce in a blender or food processor. Thin out the purée with a splash of water if it is too thick. Brush this onto the pork.
Set a large grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss on the meat, onions, and pineapple. Cook the meat for about 2-3 minutes a side. Cook the onions and pineapple, turning occasionally, until they are soft, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer everything to a cutting board.
Chop everything into little 1/4-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and toss together, seasoning with salt to taste. Serve with tortillas and the salsa.