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Tacos al Pastor (Healthier Version)

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Prep:

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Level: Intermediate

System:

12

Description

Authentic Tacos al Pastor are delicious but a bit fattening, since they’re made with pork shoulder. I made a healthier version with lean pork tenderloin with all of the flavor but a lot less fat. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 5 To 6 Pounds Pork Tenderloin
  • Fresh Tortillas (corn Or Flour)
  • _____
  • MARINADE:
  • 8 Dried New Mexico Chilis (or A More Traditional Combination Of Guajillo And Pasillas Chilis)
  • Water For Steeping The Chilis
  • 1 Large Onion, Roughly Chopped
  • 10 cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1-½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt (or 1 TBSP Table Salt)
  • 1 Chipotle Chili Pepper (I Normally Add 2)
  • 2 Tablespoons Adobo Sauce From The Can Of Chipotle Chili Peppers
  • 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
  • 1-½ cup Fresh Pineapple
  • _____
  • TOPPINGS:
  • Onions, Limes, Sour Cream, Cilantro, Fresh Pineapple, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Etc

Preparation

De-stem and de-seed the chili peppers. Put the chilis in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the chilis steep in the hot water for about 25 minutes.

While the chilis are steeping, prepare the other marinade ingredients and add them to a bowl. This includes roughly cutting up the onion, garlic, and pineapple as well as measuring out the other ingredients for the marinade.

When the chilis have steeped for about 25 minutes, remove the chilis from the water and add the chilis to a blender. Add about 1/2 cup of the steeping water to the blender as well to make it easier to puree the chilis. Discard the remaining steeping water. Fully puree the chilis. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the pureed chilis into a large bowl, pushing and scraping the chilis through the strainer. Discard the skins and solids that will not go through the strainer.

Add the remaining marinade ingredients to the blender and completely puree. Add the puree to the bowl with the strained chilis (no need to strain the other ingredients). Stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Remove the pork tenderloin from the package and dry it well with paper towels. Remove all excess fat and silver skin. Cut the tenderloin lengthwise into 4 long pieces. Pour a little of the chilled marinade to coat the bottom of a 9×13″ glass dish. Add the meat to the glass dish and cover with the remaining marinade. Make sure all of the pieces are full coated in the marinade, then cover and refrigerate for about 1 1/2 hours. Do not marinate longer than 1 1/2 hours or the enzymes in the pineapple will start breaking down the meat.

About 20 minutes before the meat has finished marinating, take the meat out of the refrigerator to take the chill off. Start preheating your oven at 425F. Cover a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil then place an oven-safe rack in the sheet pan.

When the pork has finished marinating, place the pork on the rack. Make sure the top of the pork has a nice, even layer of the marinade (discard any remaining marinade left in the glass dish). Place the sheet pan in the oven and pour about 1 cup of water into the sheet pan. Bake the pork for roughly 25 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork has reached 160F. The cooking time is only a rough guide. Tent the pork and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before cutting.

Cut the pork into small, bite-size pieces. At this point, the meat may be refrigerated and the meat will taste even better the next day. This is especially nice if you are having a dinner party because you can cook the meat the day before.

To make the tacos, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. When the oil is hot, add a single layer of meat to the skillet (don’t overcrowd the meat). Don’t move the meat because you want to develop a nice, brown sear on one side. Once seared, serve on warmed tortillas with an assortment of toppings. This preparation has significantly less fat than when prepared with traditional pork shoulder, so eat it without the guilt.

For an accompanying story, check out http://cookingventures.blogspot.com

6 Comments

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Avatar of amylmason

amylmason on 4.10.2010

This is my all time favorite thing to order at a mexican restaurant, so I was so excited to see this recipe! I made this for a bunch of my girlfriends, and we all LOVED it! Quite a few steps, but oh so worth it! Tasted JUST like what I order at my favorite mexican restaurant.

Avatar of seedlady

seedlady on 10.18.2009

just a head’s up–recommended internal cooking temp for pork nowdays is 140. No need to overcook pork to 160, when it can get dry. I use a Polder thermo probe for cooking meat, you can set it as a timer or to go off at a preset temp. Great for oven or BBQ use.

Avatar of Anne McCoy

Anne McCoy on 10.8.2009

By the way, I LOVED the story when you first had Tacos al Pastor. I laughed so hard. I had all kinds of visuals tumbling around in my head about those girls.

Avatar of Noshings

Noshings on 10.6.2009

NOM NOM NOM!
the hubs will love this one!
thanks CV =)

Avatar of Cooking Ventures

Cooking Ventures on 10.5.2009

I know EXACTLY what you mean. I did the same thing with ribs one time and I can’t stomach eating them anymore.

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