looking for help for the chow al pastor recipe, because it needs it
Hi Chowhounds :)
I made this recipe, and you might see from my comments that it ticked me off. I was hoping the experts could help me turn this promising recipe into something that actually tastes great. I suspect I need fat in the marinade, and a different cut of pork.
With the onions, cilantro, and grilled pineapple, toasted raccoon would be amazing, but I'm hoping to get this recipe downpat and part of the rotation. :D I really need to learn how to cook that good Mexican-style pork that I had all over L.A., whether taco stand, taco truck, Hispanic grocery, you name it, they all had it and I've never found it duplicated anywhere else. Pork or beef, any and all ideas that will help me move towards that taste are all very appreciated. *praying reverently at the taco altar*
Have you bought meat from a carniceria and cooked it yourself?
For years I've bought carne adobada, thinly sliced pork (or beef) marinated in a chile sauce. The pork is probably cut from shoulder, since there is quite a bit of connective tissue. Mexican butchers have the skill to cut these thin slices. Same goes for the 'aranchera' cuts. I suspect the marinade is mostly dried chiles, ancho and guajillo. The brighter the red, the higher proportion of guajillo.
In recent years I've seen 'al pastor' at carnicerias (in Seattle area). This isn't real 'gyro' style meat (authentic DF style), but rather smaller pieces of pork in a chile marinade with the addition of onion and pineapple. With small pieces like this, a quick high heat sear (almost stir fry) is better than grilling.
In the Chow recipe, the meat is cut into slices 1/3" thick, grilled, and cut again into serving size strips. Between the 2 steps, the final pieces should have short grains. With quick grilling, I don't think fat in the marinade matters much. When I cook adobada, I try not to leave too much marinade on the meat, because that can burn.
Thanks for the ideas, Paul. I do stand by my position that it's impossible to grill 1/3 inch slices of lean pork loin that Are slathered in thick marinade. You can't do it. Of course you can actually cook the pork that way but it can't come out right. It won't be charred and not overcooked at the same time.
In the DF gyro style al Pastor the meat is cut in thin slices, but cooked on the rotisserie, with the cooked outside layer being sliced off. For adobada or aranchera, the meat is thin and and quickly grilled, and can't be cooked as you describe, regardless of source (whether loin or shoulder). But I've read that Mexicans (and others from Latin America) usually like their meat overcooked (from a USA perspective). I think the same could be said for thinly sliced Korean meats and Chinese hot pot meat.
I recommend sliced pork shoulder instead; that would be my choice over lean pork loin. I have no idea what cut of pork the taco stands/trucks use in LA, somehow I think it's pork shoulder; maybe you should inquire, but pork shoulder has more fat than the loin.
You could could try sliced beef shoulder, very flavorful and beefy, or even the leaner top round (often referred to as London Broil). After grilling, you slice the meat thinly against the grain, which means that the you're cutting the meat across the long muscle striation, making the cut easier to chew, whether you have teeth or not. Would you cut a pork loin, flank, flat iron or hangar steak with the grain? I think not. Alternatively, you could just chop the meat after grilling.
Anyway, try the sliced pork shoulder to start, add some corn or vegetable oil to the marinade if you want, oil the grill well, wipe off the extra marinade before grilling, don't overcook, a very quick 1-2 minute grilling per side is all it takes; see how that works out.
Btw, I just looked through an al pastor recipe from Rick Bayless, he uses sliced pork shoulder. His marinade is less complex with simpler prep than the Chow version, but see what you think. Maybe through trial and error you could develop you're own favorite marinade.