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Jul 11, 2009 06:33 PM

Al Pastor Recipe--Mark Miller Tacos cookbook

I recently bought Mark Miller's cookbook called Tacos. I'm attempting the Al pastor recipe, but I'm already thinking that it's not that authentic.

Anyone used this recipe? Loved to hear about results and any tweaks...

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  1. Came out pretty well, just in case anyone was interested. Not authentic, but better than any that I've tried in San Francisco.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hankstramm

      Very interested, can you paraphrase? Thanks!

    2. What is "Authentic"? Other than a word that drives me nuts!
      Since there are probably 100's if not 1000's of variations on Al Pastor, which one qualifies as Authentic and why? Is there a governing body somewhere?


      15 Replies
      1. re: legourmettv

        probably are thousands but to me authentic includes a marinade involving pineapple and slow cooking, preferably a giant hunk o' pork on a spit that is served sliced off and maybe seared on the grill a little.

        But if there is a governing body of al pastor, I would like to volunteer my tasting services.

        1. re: legourmettv

          There is only one variation of Al Pastor that matters--that readily available in Mexico City and Puebla. Besides that, it's all drek. And yes, there's a governing body--go to Mexico City, try an authentic al pastor and you'll know what I mean...

          1. re: hankstramm

            "Besides that, it's all drek." There are lots of immigrants from that area making al pastor all over that will disagree with that statement. And I'll happily eat their "drek" until I get to try the OG.

            1. re: hankstramm

              You've got it right. I salivate to think about the Tacos Al Pastor in DF (Cuernavaca has them, as well). The recipe seems to be under lock & key -- I've had some close attempts, but nothing really comes close.

              The only "secret" ingredient I'm 100% positive about is achiote. If this recipe doesn't have it, then it isn't authentic.

              1. re: Reignking

                So the purists here seem to believe that you might as well say "NO THANKS!" any time somebody (in a home or a restaurant or a taco truck) offers you a taco al pastor. This seems to me to be a very large load of bunk. We'd all be pretty limited in our eating choices if we stuck to only the authentic dishes of our neighborhood or city.

                So what if the tacos al pastor aren't authentic. Are they good even if they don't have the hallowed original ingredients found in the DF and Cuernavaca? If so, I say eat them con mucho gusto but don't tell the Taco Police.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  Here! Here! Exactly! That was the point I was trying to make, albeit in my cryptic and sarcastic way.


                  1. re: legourmettv

                    The al pastor that they sell here is in the Bay Area is just pork adobado and is sometimes cooked on a spit. It's like if called a noodle soup with egg noodles and a dark rich broth Pho. What they serve may be tasty, but don't use a fake name for it. They don't call it that anywhere in Mexico--people would reject the misnomer. BTW--achiote has a very subtle flavor and is used to color things mainly. I agree that it seems like a definite ingredient, but the guajillo chiles--definite ingredient gives a similar hue..

                    1. re: hankstramm

                      I recently bought some 'al pastor' pork from a carniceria called 'Michocan'. It was 'stir fry' size pieces of pork in an adobado like marinade, with the addition of sliced onion and pineapple. Quickly fried - taking care to not crowd it - produced a tasty dish. They might have used the scraps left over from slicing meat for adobado.

                      If I recall the travel shows correctly, Mexico DF 'al pastor' grilled and sliced gyro style, and served with pineapple.

                      1. re: paulj

                        Sounds tasty. It's pretty much what the recipe in the Miller Taco book was, but with a lot less trouble.

                  2. re: oakjoan

                    Honestly? No. It just isn't as good. Trust me, I try and I try but I usually come away disappointed.

                2. re: hankstramm

                  I disagree. I've had al pastor tacos all over mexico, including DF and cuernavaca. All over TX and in NYC even. There are good and bad in all places. I personally prefer them without pineapple, which isn't that prevalent, and really a matter of taste. Most of my Mexican friends do not like pina on their al pastor. The comino, clove, chile, garlic, vinegar, achiote, fruit juice (yes pineapple or orange being frequent choices) paste is the common thread. Pounded out or thin sliced pork slathered in the paste and stacked on a spit, often with a whole pineapple at the top so the juices seep down over the meat and keep it nice and moist. Shaved to order. Topped with cilantro and onion, wedge of lime. Nice salsa if you like. I've had bad street tacos in Mexico and great ones in Brooklyn. Quit dealing in absolutes... it's just a taco. You got it oakjones... find the best ur town has and if it aint good enough then figure out how to make it yourself. A good tortilla hasn't been mentioned and that has to be the most important part of any taco.

                  1. re: cmalo

                    I prefer the prep without pineapple chunks, just the juice for some flavor. I should have clarified. Yes, hand made tortillas rock and add a lot to the taco.

                    1. re: cmalo

                      CMALO, there are Al Pastor tacos and there are things they call Al Pastor tacos. I've had them all over too, and I've NEVER seen a good one in NYC, Texas or in most places in Mexico outside Mexico City and Estado de Mexico.

                      Not that Pineapple is necessary, but if it isn't cooked on a spit with an onion and pineapple on top, it isn't Al Pastor. It's pork adobado. It might be tasty, but it's not the real deal...

                      Also, most people in the USA that claim they're Mexican wouldn't even be able to identify more than 2 Mexican presidents or more than 2 states in the country and think burritos are a Mexican delicacy...I've lived more years in Mexico than most of them....

                      1. re: hankstramm

                        Here's an article looking more at the background of these tacos and their cousins (tacos arabes, tacos de trompo). It sounds as though the 'al pastor' name is largely DF in origin, but the more general idea of slicing your taco meat off a spit (gyro style) is more widely spread, possibly anywhere that Middle Eastern immigrants settled in Mexico.


                        1. re: paulj

                          Paulj, definitely true. Mexico City has a large population of Christian Lebanese that fled their Muslim oppressors.

                          There are something very similarly prepared all over Mexico (taste completely different) but they're called Tacos Arabes. They're essentially pork on a spit.

                          Al Pastor (the real deal) regardless of what other people might claim, are rarely found done well outside the Mexico City area. Usually people that claim otherwise are the same type that spend their trips to Mexico at Club Meds in places like Cancun.

                3. OK, so after all this, would you please paraphrase the recipe, please?