Tacos al Pastor – Test #1

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Taco al Pastor. Pineapple & Spicy marinated pork smoked on the BGE.

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The spiced pork for Tacos al Pastor is cooked stacked on a long spike.

Well, I’m behind on posting – that really hacks me!   Wish I could claim that I’ve been too busy cooking to take time to write but honestly it’s the day job…..but that ‘s what keeps the pup supplied with kibbles!

I love being a demonstration cook at the Georgia Mountain Eggfest up in Hiawassee. It’s a beautiful location and John Hall runs a super event. Unlike the big fest at the big rock which is held out in the open sun on pavement, this one is held in the shade at the site of the Georgia Mountain Fair. Tasters stroll shaded lanes lined with wood booths (think craft shacks) where eggers are prepping a favorite “Show-off dish” on the BGE. There’s great food, wonderful conversation and it’s all seasoned with the smell of lump charcoal and aromatic woods! May 20 this year. See GA Mountain Eggfest for details and plan to visit.

There have been some of those recipe videos circulating lately for Tacos al Pastor. I’m a real fan of those (something I regularly order at Los Hermanos) so I paid attention. The idea that these might be a great demo cook for the Eggfest was not far behind viewing the utube video the first time.   The meat for these is a sliced pork that has been well marinated in pineapple & spices that is then stacked on a spike to cook. Many taco joints actually cook al Pastor on the large vertical rotisseries like you see at the Gyro stand. Once the meat is done they slice down to get nice chunks of meat. I had a great puzzlement over the spike – the little videos show using a stick poked in a piece of pineapple – uh, no!   I can’t imagine stacking 5 pounds of sliced pork on that idea. Thanks to the popularity of the recipe the folks at The Ceramic Grill Store designed and now market a super-duper stainless steel meat spike. As soon as it was available I ordered two!   Want one?   See: https://ceramicgrillstore.com/collections/hand-tools/products/meat-stick

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The meat stick from The Ceramic Grill Store and the small pizza pan.

Our friends Mark & Kathy are joining the Angry Man Team for the Mountain Eggfest. The Pleasant Lady and I are excited about having them cook with us. We recently ran test #1 in The Angry Man BBQ Test Kitchen at Lighthouse Lane. While it wasn’t perfect – I decided to share this one anyway – you too can learn from what we did!

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a 5 lb pork loin ready to be sliced into 3/4 inch slices

The recipe calls for boneless pork shoulder sliced into ½ to ¾ inch slices that are then marinated. I had some concern about all the fat in a shoulder and decided to try a pork loin instead. I wanted less fat in the finished product as well as less running into the cooker or a pan.

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Our spices ready for mixing – in addition to the pineapple juice there’s white vinegar in the marinade as well.

Acquiring the spices meant a trip to the local Mexican Market. The folks there are super nice and it’s always fun to shop with them. Other than the fact that they say “hi” when I walk in rather than the “hola” that most get I feel right at home there.

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who doesn’t love a Vitamix?!?!

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A ziplock bag of pure pork & spice goodness headed for a day in the fridge!

We assembled the spices and ran them through the blender!   I did this since I decided to add a few slices of pineapple to the marinade since I knew I’d be short on juice. The loin sliced easily and we put it all in a bag to rest in the fridge for the day.  When it was time to cook the meat was stabbed onto the spike and fanned out around it.  The aroma was heavenly!!!

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It’s sorta like creating an inverse flower as your go around the spike with the meat. Lot’s of spice in that marinade – gloves are always a good idea.

 

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Stacked and ready to cook. Note that I have my temp probe in already. I love using the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm. We keep several around in different colors usually using a green one for the cooker temp and red for meat.

The Super-Spike went on top of the small pizza pan to help catch juices and provide a little heat protection for the lower slices of meat.

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We set the large BGE for indirect with the plate-setter (aka conveggtor) feet up. Our target temp was 325. I’m a fan of covering the plate-setter with foil to avoid getting it gummy.

The videos give the suggestion of 1 ½ hours at 350 in the oven. I was not convinced that was going to work for us – and others who have tried the recipe had confirmed that concern. With a BGE dome temp of 325 we anticipated about 3 hours to done – which would be an internal temp of 145 in the center.

Gotta love that Super-Spike! The meat stacked up beautifully. I suspect that the larger slices from a shoulder would make a little prettier stack but ours looked good and smelled even better!   My idea the stick the couple of slices on top was to allow them to drip some moisture down on the stack.  (it did that but the sugar burned a bit)

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All done now! A little char from the sugar in the pineapple – plus that’s high in the dome so there’s some heat there too.

At about 2 ½ hours into the cook we hit the 145. I backed down the heat and let the stack sit just a bit more – I like my pork done!

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As F.L. (my Dad) used to say – that’s more tender than a mother-in-law’s love! This was amazingly tender when we sliced down the tower of meat.

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I’m imagining a taco party with this as centerpiece for serving.

We had our tortillas, chopped cilantro and diced red onion ready.  Earlier we had tossed together a grilled pineapple salsa as well. Our side was a knock-off of Chipotle’s cilantro-lime rice that we just love.   It was really fun slicing down the tower of pork. I could only imagine taking a huge carver to a supersized spike of meat on a vertical roaster! Oh my – this was GREAT!

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Taco al Pastor with seasoned pork, cilantro and red onion. On the side we have grilled pineapple salsa and cilantro-lime rice.

Next time?   Well, the marinade is spot one – the extra pineapple was a good thought. I will try a different hunk of pork. The loin wasn’t dry but I would enjoy a little more moisture. Maybe a combination of loin and shoulder would work well.

 

I’ll keep you posted when we run test #2. Meanwhile you need to be making your plans to join us at The Georgia Mountain Eggfest.

 

See you there!

Glenn   aka The Angry Man

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2 Responses to "Tacos al Pastor – Test #1"

  1. Robin Moreman says:

    Looks tasty! Bummed we won’t be coming to the Egg Fest after all. Hubby’s family decided to have a reunion the same weekend.

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