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Nov 15, 2006 01:15 AM

Anyone have a clue about Al Pastor?

We are hosting monday night football next week and my husband wants me to make Al Pastor taco's like the ones he enjoys off the lunch wagon at work. I don' even know what kind of meat that is... Anyone out there have any ideas on how to make it?

I would appreciate it.

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  1. Pork. Believe they use pork shoulder(butt) that's sliced then stacked on a spit(vertically) and turns like a rotisserie.

    Where do you live?

    Carnitas is similar and can be made at home very easy...again start with a pork shoulder.

    1. Al pastor is like the Mexican version of gyros or souvlaki. Not something easily done at home.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Absolutely - I agree, "al pastor" is difficult to do at home - similar to a gyro, marinated meat sliced thin, stacked, 'grilled' - a standup 'spit', etc. Pineapple on top is key - so that all the juice drips on the meat as it turns.

        Carnitas is TOTALLY different - not cooked the same way at all -stewed in lard and then crisped when the moisture evaporates (my husband is Mexican and I'm a quick learner- ha).
        And it's not just simply braised pork, or pork confit - it needs the Mexican rock sugar and the tartness of naranje (sour orange, Seville orange). The authentic Michoacan way is in a big copper pot in its own fat with sour oranges and Mexican rock sugar (believe it or not, Coke is a good substitute). I do this once every couple of years.

        However, I agree that you can't go wrong with carnitas. Epi has a GREAT recipe that I do a lot - it's a winner with short-cut technique and flavors - the sugar in the brandy gives the caramelization and the OJ gives the tartness. And my husband, the football fan, and his friends love this. You can make a big batch ahead of time if you wanted to and heat it up in the oven, and serve with great guacamole, salsa, and store-bought tortillas. You can even freeze the leftovers, and YumYum (another Chowhound) gave me the great idea to serve it on top of nachos!

        Here's the Epi recipe -

        1. re: Rubee

          There are a lot of different regional styles of carnitas with different flavorings.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Michoacan is famous for carnitas (where it originated), more so than other regions of Mexico...

            1. re: Rubee

              There is absolutely no support for the idea that carnitas originated in Michoacan. People in the Yucatan, Chiapas & Oaxaca have been making a somewhat similar dish (pot roasted boar in clay pots... searing & steaming at the same time) for thousands of years.

              But, yes the town of Uruapan in Michoacan is known all over Mexico for its Carnitas... but it is not the only one... there are many towns that have an esteemable carnitas tradition.

      2. I live in California, yea I don't want to get myself into something too difficult to make.

        1 Reply
        1. re: koriekiss

          Where in California?

          If its Los Angeles there are Mexican places you can get Al Pastor to go then make your own tacos at home.
          There are also lots of places to buy carnitas by the pound.

          Carnitas is one of the easiest things to make. You take a pork shoulder (butt) throw it in a roasting pan sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast it covered for several hours then last 30 minutes take the cover off so the outside of the meat gets crispy. By this time the meat is will shread off nicely with a fork. You got carnitas.

          Have your husband talk to the guy with the Al Pastor truck and he'll sell it to you by the pound.

        2. True carnitas are like pork confit, so just like true al pastor, it's quite a chore for the home cook. Here in Chicago, enthusiasts most commonly frequent various specialists for both al pastor and carnitas. When it comes to carnitas in particular, ordering the pork by cut and weight, along with all of the accompaniments, is a weekly weekend tradition for many Mexican households. If that's an option for the O.P., it would make things much easier. Not to mention fun!

          For some idea about the setup at some of the various al pastor specialists in Chicago, refer to this link:


          And, for some idea about the setup at a true carniceria in Chicago, refer to this link:


          Both links contain a number of photos for your enjoyment.

          Good luck,

          7 Replies
          1. re: Erik M.

            Carnitas are no big deal, you just braise pork in its own fat.

            1. re: Erik M.

              That link to al pastor heaven makes me want to pack up and move to Chicago!

              1. re: Erik M.

                Note also that in Chicago practically every carniceria or nonchain supermarket with substantive Mexican customers carries the seasoned pork for al pastor. This is griddled for a rather weak substitute for al pastor on the proper spit, but obviously a lot of local Mexicans eat pork al pastor this way.

                1. re: Eldon Kreider

                  I think that's basically what Americans call fajitas. Not nearly as tasty as good, real spit-roasted al pastor.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    actually fajitas is the catch all for any meat with onions, peppers that is griddle fried.

                    Griddle fried al pastor-seasoned meat is known as puerco adobada, which is typically listed on a tacqueria menu when they dont have a trompe for al pastor.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      The seasoned pork for al pastor is cut into cubes about the size that would come from broken slices off the spit. There are no pepper or onion strips. Most of the people buying this meat for al pastor wouldn't know what fajitas are just as most of the butchers in these places don't speak much English.

                      Unfortunately, a fair number of Chicago tacquerias without vertical spits grill this seasoned meat without referring to it as puerco adobada. My rule before ordering al pastor is to take a close look at the spit and the degree on doneness of the meat on it. This is a preparation that is easy to mess up if there isn't the right degree of turnover.

                      1. re: Eldon Kreider

                        Kaire is right... the correct name is Adobado... however Eldon is also correct... there are a lot of faux Al Pastor's out there. (The judgement is unequivocal.. as the name translates to Shepherd's Style which refers to the Spit).

                2. thanks for the web site E.M. I'm sure my husband thought it was just some slab of meat that I could marinate and grill on the barbeque. I will show him the pics when he gets home and i am sure he will be coming up with a new menu.