Tacos al pastor has always been a favorite of mine, but it seemed so out of reach for me to prepare at home. However, after one of our viewers put out a request for us to fix this recipe, we took that challenge to finally figure it out. And boy are we glad we did!
Not only was this recipe delicious, it was so much fun to make!
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Step 1: Marinade
The marinade was super simple to prepare. All we did was combine the achiote paste, onion, vinegar, orange juice, garlic, guajillo chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper in a blender until smooth.
Next, we cut the pork butt into thin steaks, approximately, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. We layered the pork steaks and marinade into a big ziplock bag, massaged it really well to get the marinade into all the little crevices and then left it in the fridge overnight to work its magic.
Step 2: Prepare the spit
We chopped off the top of the pineapple and trimmed off the outside. Then we cut what remained into 3 sections. We used the bottom section for the base of our spit and the top section for the top of the spit. The middle of the pineapple went into our pineapple salsa recipe, which we used to garnish our tacos al pastor.
Next we stabbed the skewer through the base of the pineapple until it was wedged in enough for the pineapple to stand straight inside the cast-iron pan.
Then we began the process of layering the pork steaks, threading them through the skewer. Any time the steak was too long and hung over the edge of the pineapple, I trimmed off the excess and added it back up to the top of the stack.
Stick the top section of the pineapple at the top of the spit and you’re ready for the smoker!
Step 3: Smoke the pork spit
Our Grill Dome X2 kamado grill worked perfectly for this because of how spacious the dome is. There was plenty of height available for the spit to remain standing throughout the cook.
(It would be a good idea for you to test out the needed height in your grill ahead of time to be sure you’ve got enough clearance to make it work.)
We smoked the pork for 3 hours at around 275-300 degrees.
Step 4: Fire it up!
In order to have full range of the entire circumference of the pork spit, (and to prevent any flame damage to the seals of our Grill Dome) we transferred the whole stack to our Pit Barrel smoker for this last step. We used the Grill Gun to help char the outside of the pork.
I’m sure there are other ways to accomplish this task, but I will argue that none are as fun as shooting the spit of smoked pork with the Grill Gun. This is honestly one of my favorite new barbecue toys, (I mean tools).
We sliced off the outer crispy layers of the pork and then returned it to the Pit Barrel for more flame-throwing. Then it’s just rinse and repeat for as long as you need to/want to.
Tacos al Pastor Recipe
Making this recipe was both delicious and fun. If you love Mexican food, smoking meat, and playing with fire, you have definitely got to give this one a try!
Tacos Al Pastor
- cutting board
- Slicing Knife
- zip-top bag
- 5 lb Boneless Pork Butt
- ¼ c Achiote paste
- ½ white onion chopped
- ½ white vinegar
- ¾ orange juice
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Tb chili powder
- 1 Tb cumin
- 1½ tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 Tb paprika
- 1 Tb salt
- 1 Tb pepper
- 1 fresh pineapple
- Combine all of the ingredients (except the pork) in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Slice the pork butt into ¼-½ inch thin steaks.
- Layer the pork slices and marinade in a zip-top bag. Seal carefully and massage to work the marinade between all the layers of pork. Place in the refrigerator to marinade overnight.
- The next day, prepare a spit by stabbing a metal kabob skewer through the lower ⅓ of a trimmed pineapple. Stand it up in a cast iron pan.
- Thread each slice of marinated pork onto the spit, trimming excess pork off the edges and transferring the scraps back onto the stack.Once the stack is complete, finish it off with the top ⅓ of the trimmed pineapple to secure everything in place.
- Place the cast-iron with pineapple/pork spit standing up in your smoker for 3 hours at about 275-300°.
- Use a grill gun (or similar alternative) to add fire to the outside of the meat and create crispy edges. (If necessary, transfer the smoked pork tower to a safe location for the flame-throwing.)
- Slice off the outer edges of the pork and prepare your tacos. The spit can be returned to your grill for more flame throwing as many times as necessary as you slice off the meat.