Posts Tagged ‘chilies’

I’ve spent the past week looking into al pastor recipes and noticed that there’s no typical recipe out there. Each has it’s own blend of ingredients and most are dumbed-down for the home cook by using pork chops or sliced pork loin marinated, cooked and chopped up rather than a large chunk of meat roasted. The pineapple juice, responsible for this dish’s unique flavor, is prone to burning due to its high sugar content so while I wanted to roast my dish, I worried it would become a charred, burnt mess. I figured I’d try a braise.

I coerced a few friends over to test the recipes that follow and everyone approved.

Al Pastor Recipe

The pork butt is a fatty cut of meat, but a 3-hour braise will render most of this fat and turn the meat a mouth-wateringly tender dish.

2 ½ lb. pork butt, fat not trimmed
3 T canola oil

2 arbol chilies* dried or fresh
4 guajilo chilies* dried or fresh
10 tepin chilies* dried or fresh
1 chipoltle chili* dried or fresh or tinned
1 bay leaf—only if re-hydrating dried chilies
Juice of 1 orange
1 c pineapple juice
1 yellow onion
5 cloves garlic
½ t ground cloves
1 t ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

To Serve
Corn or flour tortillas
Tomatillo sauce (recipe follows)
Smoky Red Salsa (recipe follows)
Chopped onion
Diced pineapple

*This is a combination of chilies based on what I could find in my local stores and me trying to re-create the spiciness and complexity of the dish I’d tried at the taco truck. But if these aren’t available this link describes flavors and substitutes.

Season roast with salt and set aside.

If your chilies are dried, place in a saucepan with enough water to cover and a bay leaf. Bring to boil and turn off heat. Allow them to soak until soft, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and water.

For both fresh and dried chilies, removed the stems and seeds to taste, as the seeds are very hot. I kept the majority of the seeds when I cooked this dish; however, I had a very spicy meal. To temper the heat, discard the seeds of the chilies.

Place all marinade ingredients except for the pineapple and orange juice into a food processor. Process until well blended. Add additional water if the marinade is too dry and season with salt and pepper. Marinade pork overnight.

Pre-heat oven too 270 F.

In a large Dutch oven, or oven-safe pot with tightly fitting lid, heat 3 T of oil until hot. Scrape excess marinade off meat and sear until brown on all sides, about 10-20 minutes. Once browned, reduce heat to low and pour the marinade into the pot. Add pineapple and orange juice and enough water to almost cover the meat. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover with lid and place in the oven. Braise for 3 hours, turning twice. Meat should be tender enough to shred with a fork and the liquid will be reduced by two-thirds.

Shred meat and serve on tortillas with smoky red salsa, tomatillo sauce, diced pineapple, chopped onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Tomatillo Sauce

Vegetable oil
8 tomatillos, husked and halved
2 Serrano chilies, stems and seeds removed and halved
4 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of cilantro
Squeeze of lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Place first 3 ingredients on a baking sheet, lightly brush with oil and roast at 450 F for 15-20 minutes until slightly charred.

Blend in a food processor with remaining ingredients.

Smoky Red Salsa
4 vine-ripe tomatoes, diced
1 medium red onion, one half diced, one half sliced
2 tinned chipotle chilies
1 bunch of cilantro
Vegetable oil

Brush the sliced red onion with oil and roast at 450 F for 15 minutes or until browned. Dice.
Mix roast onion with all remaining ingredients. Blend half the mixture in a food processor for a chunky salsa consistency.

For more salsa inspiration check out Clay’s Kitchen.

Strawberries are in season, so for dessert I served my friends vanilla-bean custard hidden under strawberries.

Vanilla Custard Recipe
2 cups of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
5 T sugar

Heat cream and vanilla bean in a heavy saucepan till almost simmering. Scrape seeds of the vanilla bean into the cream and discard pod.

Whisk egg yolk and sugar in a bowl. Slowly whisk in a few tablespoons of the hot cream mixture to temper the yolks. Continue adding the cream slowly and whisking well so the egg doesn’t curdle. Once the cream is mixed into the egg yolk mixture, return to the saucepan. Heat over a low heat, stirring constantly till mixture thickens. The custard will thicken further as it cools.

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