If you are a taco lover, today is your lucky day because you are one reading away from the best and most authentic Mexican food experience the culinary world has to offer. Here, from one taco aficionado to another, I bring you the quintessential taco, the taco you didn’t know you needed: taco al pastor.
Tacos al pastor or tacos de trompo are the most popular variety of tacos in Mexico. In fact, this delicacy of marinated meat with onion, cilantro, lime, pineapple and its sauce, obtained a rating of 4.4 out of the 5 stars available in the gastronomic guide site Taste Atlas, which allows you to learn about the typical dishes of each region in the world.
So if you’re looking for the best taco for your next taco night, then stop looking: tacos al pastor is the ultimate taco mecca.
Tacos al Pastor: A Delicious Travel Story from the Middle East to the Streets of Mexico
In the bustling streets of Mexico, tacos al pastor reign supreme. Originating with Lebanese immigrants who brought the art of the spinning trompo, a vertical grill, tacos al pastor have become an integral part of Mexican cuisine.
When they arrived in Latin America, they combined their traditional technique of grilling meat on a spinning top with the flavor of classic Mexican ingredients. They switched from lamb to pork and, later, began to marinate the meat with adobo, giving rise to the iconic tacos al pastor for which we have gathered here. These tasty delicacies show the influence of shawarma, a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine.
What is shawarma? Shawarma, the inspiration for tacos al pastor, is a seasoned, thinly sliced meat, traditionally lamb, chicken or beef, that is cooked on a vertical rotisserie. This rotating spinning top technique, later adopted in Mexico, gave rise to the mouth-watering tacos al pastor that we savor today.
Therefore, in your search for authentic “Mexican food near me”, these tacos made of seasoned pork, stars of Mexican street food and an essential part of an entire culture, are not to be missed.
So thank you globalization, thank you for giving us all the taco nights that today make our life a little more delicious and exciting.
Bringing Tacos al Pastor Home: The Search for the Perfect Marinade
Of course, this dish is not the easiest to recreate at home because not everyone has a spinning top in the kitchen.
But don’t worry, because the distinctive flavor of these tacos comes mainly from the marinade, so here is the recipe to achieve the perfect tacos al pastor marinade in case you want a night of the most iconic homemade Mexican food.
- 3-4 ancho chilies, deseeded and stemmed
- 2 tablespoons achiote paste
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1.5 lbs sliced pork
- In a hot pot put the ancho chiles until they are soft. Then add a little hot water and cook them for a few more minutes, they do not need that much cooking.
- The second step is to place the chiles in a food processor or blender and combine them with some pineapple juice, 3 garlic, 1 tablespoon of cumin powder, oregano, pepper, salt and 1 tablespoon of achiote paste. In case you like it a little sweeter, it is optional to add a pinch of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder. Now we process until we obtain a smooth paste.
- In a large bowl place the sauce and the sliced pork (previously seasoned with salt and pepper). The meat should marinate in this sauce for at least 4 hrs or if possible overnight.
And that’s it, there you have the perfect marinade recipe for your tacos al pastor. But sure, what we are all wondering is how to make tacos al pastor without the vertical rotisserie. Well, to craft your homemade tacos al pastor you have two cooking options, and whichever one you choose, it will be the next step after marinating:
- In the oven: Cut the marinated pork into small kabob style cubes, place on a needle or kabob stick and add slices of onion and pineapple in between. This method will take about 20 minutes to cook, turning at least 2 times during cooking.
- Pan frying: Once the meat has marinated, cut into small thin strips. Be sure to remove any excess marinade sauce. Heat the skillet and add 1 splash of oil until hot. Add onion and pineapple slices along the meat to cook. Cook for about 15 minutes until browned.
All that’s left is to prepare the warm tortillas, garnishing with your favorite toppings like chopped onion, fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and finally a salsa of your choice.
Now, with this tacos al pastor recipe you’re ready to bring the authentic flavors of Mexican street food into your own kitchen. This way, the next time you’re looking for the best tacos al pastor near me you won’t have to go too far.
Pairings to Assemble a Traditional Mexican Menu
To put together a genuine Mexican dinner party, consider these beverages and sides to make your taco the star of a real feast.
- Mexican Drinks
- Margarita: This one’s a classic Mexican cocktail with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec. Indeed, a tequila margarita is a must at a real fiesta.
- Tamarind Agua Fresca: Refreshing and slightly tangy, this Mexican drink it’s a classic in every Mexican dinner. Mix tamarind concentrate with water and a touch of sugar for a delightful beverage.
- Sangria: Embrace the fruity elegance of sangria, a blend of red wine, citrus fruits, and a hint of sweetness.
- Chips and Dips
- Tortilla Chips: Begin with the cornerstone of any Mexican gathering: crispy tortilla chips. Opt for a mix of traditional yellow corn and blue corn chips to add a burst of color to your spread. Lightly salted, these chips provide the perfect vessel for scooping up the delectable dips.
- Salsa Roja: A tomato based salsa with chili peppers, garlic, and onions for a spicy kick.
- Pineapple Salsa: Fresh pineapple, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice for a sweet and tangy contrast.
- Guacamole: And of course, if it’s a Mexican fiesta, there’s no need to introduce this superstar. Creamy avocado, diced tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, and a pinch of salt create a heavenly guacamole, the star companion.
As you assemble your taco feast, these sides and sauces will create a culinary celebration that mirrors the authentic revelry of Mexican street food.
Crafting an Authentic Mexican Fiesta at Home
And since we are going to make the most popular taco in all of Mexico, why not organize a real Mexican fiesta at home and enjoy this sensation with your loved ones?
For starters, think about setting up a DIY taco station to unleash the artist in you. There you will be able to explore new proteins and marinades to open up the world of possibilities that tacos have to offer.
So set up a self-serve taco bar, display bowls with marinated calamari, chicken or pork and include a selection of traditional sides like Mexican rice and refried beans to complement the main attraction. And of course, don’t forget about the chips and dips section. It’s all about letting your guests choose their own adventure.
By the end of the fiesta, wrap up on a sweet note with authentic Mexican desserts like the one and only tres leches cake.
And last but not least, highlight the ambiance with the soft sounds of bossa nova. Because we know that while food is the star of the show, the whole experience lies in the details, so put together a playlist and offer a true bossa nova menu.
With these Mexican dinner ideas, created from ingredients that are not only from Mexican cuisine but also from its culture, its parties, feast and sounds, you will create an excellent taco night. Thus, tacos al pastor are not only an emblem of Mexican cuisine, but also the best excuse to invite your loved ones to what will surely be an event to remember.
Conclusion: A Toast to the Timeless and Worldwide Flavor of Tacos al Pastor
Today, tacos are the epitome of comfort food. They are the spearhead for either a night of me time, with some tasty homemade tacos and a nice rom-com, or to put together an authentic Mexican fiesta and celebrate with friends. So gather the ingredients, marinate your proteins and enjoy this gem of Latin American cuisine. Enjoy the fiesta!