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30 minute Easy Tacos al Pastor on a black plate over a wooden table
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30-minute Easy Tacos al Pastor

This 30-minute Easy Tacos al Pastor version gives you all the flavor without all the fuss! They are sweet, savory, smoky, slightly spicy, and incredibly flavorful.
Course dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword al pastor, dinner, easy, mexican, quick, tacos
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 14 servings
Calories 279kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lb ground pork (I use 85% Lean/15% Fat) (see notes for pork shoulder)
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)

Al Pastor Sauce:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 oz achiote paste
  • 2 teaspoons guajillo chile powder (ground guajillo chile pepper)
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

For the Tacos:

  • 12 - 14 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 cup pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into small dices (see notes)
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges each for serving

Instructions

Make al Pastor Sauce:

  • In a blender or food processor, place all the sauce ingredients and blend until well combined and smooth. Set aside.

Make al Pastor Pork:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and keep sautéing for 1 more minute.
  • Add ground pork, use a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to break up the ground beef into equal-size pieces as it cooks, and cook until no longer pink.
  • Stir in Al Pastor Sauce; mix until well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the skillet and cook for 8 - 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is evaporated. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired
  • Serve meat up hot on a warmed tortilla topped with, diced grilled pineapple, sliced red onion, freshly chopped cilantro, and a lime wedge.

Notes

 
ACHIOTE PASTE: Achiote paste is made with annatto seeds, cumin, pepper, coriander, oregano, cloves, and garlic. It can be used as a sauce, marinade, or rub in many delicious traditional Mexican dishes including Cochinita Pibil and tacos al pastor. This condiment is not easily found in most grocery stores, so I recommend looking for it in Latin groceries store or online (preferred choice).
 
GUAJILLO CHILE POWDER: Guajillo peppers have a sweet flavor and mild-medium heat. They are the second-most commonly used dried chili in Mexican cuisine after poblanos. 1 Guajillo Chile is equal to 1 teaspoon of Guajillo Chile powder. This condiment is not easily found in most grocery stores, so I recommend looking for it in Latin groceries store or online (preferred choice).
 
PINEAPPLE: if time allows, I highly recommend grilling the pineapple until lightly charred before serving.
 
MEATLESS VERSION: Substitute ground pork for 2 lb sliced mushrooms.
 
STORE: Let the meat cool then place leftover ground pork into an airtight container and refrigerate for up 3 days.
 
FREEZE: Let the meat cool then place leftover ground pork into an airtight container or a freezer Ziploc bag and freeze for up 3 months. Make sure it is well sealed to avoid freezer burn.
When it comes time to use your ground beef, you can defrost in the microwave or in the refrigerator overnight. To warm it up, drizzle a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth over the meat, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat, cover and heat to your liking.
 
CAN I MAKE THIS RECIPE WITH PORK SHOULDER?
Yes, you can! In this case, you have two cooking options:
Slow Cooker:
  1. Prepare the sauce as instructed in the recipe.
  2. Cut the pork shoulder into 2-inch cubes.
  3. Place pork shoulder, sauce, and 1 cup of beer or chicken stock in the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours, until the pork is completely tender and shreds easily with a fork. Use two forks to shred the pork, then toss it in the remaining juices.
 
PRO TIP: You can serve it just like it comes out of the slow cooker, shredded of course, with the leftover juices, or you can crisp up the meat under the broiler for 5 minutes. Either way, it’s ridiculously delicious.
Grill:
  1. Cut the pork shoulder into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  2. Prepare the sauce as instructed in the recipe.
  3. Marinade the pork with the sauce in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour up to 24 hours.
  4. Preheat a grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat.
  5. Grill the pork for 3-4 minutes per side, or until pork is just cooked through.
  6. Coarsely chop the pork and assemble tacos.
 
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Please note that nutritional information is a rough estimate and it can vary depending on the products used.

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sugar: 5g