A Mexican delicacy, invented some thirty years ago in Mexico City.

tacos al pastor are invariably eaten in a restaurant, because to make them you need a vertical broiler, which nobody has at home.

The meat is pork, seasoned with red stuff that I assume to be achiote. Slice upon slice of meat is impaled upon the vertical spit, which is then topped with a whole pineapple and occasionally an onion.
The spit is then mounted in the vertical broiler, and the cooking process begins. As the outer layer of the huge ball of meat (it is actually called la bola) roasts, the cook (actually a specialized guy, called el pastorero) trims off the cooked bits and collects them in something that resembles a dustpan.

The complete taco employs tortillitas: the pastorero

  • dips briefly the tortillita in the drip pan (didn't I mention that the meat is quite fatty and releases large amounts of fat ?)
  • slices off meat on the tortillita
  • slashes at the pineapple (which is also cooking) and catches the falling slice with the tortillita.
The taco is then served with raw chopped onion, cilantro, hot sauce, and lime. Since the individual taco is quite small, you can easily eat five. Or ten. Especially if you are drinking Negra Modelo.

One of the best places for tacos al pastor in Mexico City is called El Tizoncito, and it is actually a local mini-chain of restaurants. Also very good is El rincón de la lechuza on Miguel Angel de Quevedo. Another tasty one is Charly II on Av. San Fernando in Tlalpan.

I noded this delicate low-fat, low-cholesterol, vegetarian food item in the plural because you can never eat just one taco al pastor.

I love authentic Mexican food. It can be difficult to find however, depending where you are. Sometimes the only choices are to either find someplace that does at least an adequate job of making it, or learn to make it yourself. I tend to lean towards the latter. Many taquerias in Mexico are dedicated almost exclusively to tacos al Pastor which literally translates to “tacos -shepherd style

Tacos Al Pastor
Serves 4.

Cut the pork into thinly sliced steaks. Stack each steak on top of each other while marinating and cooking.

The following recipe for the marinade makes quite a bit, so you won't have to make it very often and you can freeze it for use later.

Remove seeds from chiles, then chop and mash them together with the garlic, cloves, and cumin, or blend in a food processor. Avoid touching the chiles with your bare hands if possible. Touching your eyes(or your bits n' pieces) will deliver quite a burn that will not soon fade.

Add vinegar and transfer to a medium size pan.
Stirring regularly, cook over medium heat until it thickens to a heavy paste.
When its finished, drink the beer while you allow the marinade cool.

Spread a thin layer of the paste on the meat, stacking one steak on top of the other as they are coated. Store covered, in the refridgerator for at least 6 hours but it will be even better if kept overnight.

In some taquerias, they roast the meat with pineapple on top of it so that the juice trickles down and gives the meat an excellent flavor. The meat rotates constantly as the cook cuts very small slices of meat and pineapple to be served in a taco. The results of this recipe attempts to emulate that flavor.


Chop the cilantro and onion. Combine, and set aside.

Remove pork from marinade and cut into small bits so that it can easily fit into a tortilla.

In a large oiled pan (I use my wok), fry the meat with small pieces of pineapple until the pork is fully cooked and crunchy(well roasted).

Cut the limes in quarters.

Serve the tacos with warmed corn tortillas, chopped cilantro, onion, and lime squeezed on top...and more beer!


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