Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tacos al Pastor

Second semester sophomore year, Ana's Taqueria took over the space formerly occupied by a mediocre crepe shop inside the student center, and my life changed. Not in an altogether good way, mind you. On the one hand, I was over the moon because this place had the best Mexican food in Cambridge. On the other hand, I loved the food a little too much too often, and put on ten pounds that semester. Two grande burritos and/or quesidillas per day will do that, I guess. It took me the entire summer to run those pounds off, but looking back, it was totally worth it.

The next year, I toned down my Ana's consumption, but it was Dan's turn, as a newly minted college man, to discover the joys of an Ana's grande burrito with everything in it. I bought him his first burrito at Ana's, but it wasn't long before he was there by himself for lunch and dinner multiple times per week. Of course,  lucky bastard that he is, Dan did not gain a single pound. What a jerk.

You want to know what the best thing on Ana's menu was? The al pastor burrito. And the al pastor quesidilla...and the al pastor tacos. Seriously, the al pastor was amazing. I'd never even heard of "al pastor" before Ana's, but one bite of the fatty, savory-sweet pork and I was totally hooked. And of course, I eventually got Dan hooked. These days we regularly have al pastor cravings that cannot be satisfied, because apparently none of the Mexican places in the area make it, and if they do it doesn't taste right. So sad.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to go wild and make my own al pastor. I marinated a slab of pork shoulder in chili-pineapple sauce over night, covered it with slices of fresh pineapple, and stuck it in the oven for 2 hours. The result was a mound of massively delicious, juicy, fatty pork that had a hint of sweetness and some heat from all the chili peppers I used in the sauce. So good. Not quite the flavor of Ana's, but close enough. 

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of Closet Cooking.
** Note: Two of my favorite blogs, Crumbly Cookie and Confections of a Foodie Bride, said that pineapples contain an enzyme that breaks down meat faster than normal and causes it to become mushy if you marinate the meat too long. I didn't know that at the time, and marinated my pork shoulder in chili-pineapple sauce over night. I don't know if it's because I kept the shoulder intact, while they both cut their meat into slices before marinating, but my pork wasn't mushy at all. Just something to think about...

One year ago: Chocolate Fudge


How To Be Perfect said...

I'm really hungry right now and I can't even begin to tell you how good this looks, seriously yummy. x

Sam said...

I remember that no matter how much I was tooling, how many psets I had, whatever was going wrong--an al pastor quesadilla was the way to fix all of it. Looks like you did it justice!