Authentic tacos al pastor requires a spit, a fire and about 20 pounds of thinly sliced, marinated pork--hardly approachable for the home cook. But hosts hoping to feed a crowd this summer will find an easy alternative (and recipes for everything from cocktails to ceviches) in Rick Bayless's new party-themed cookbook, Fiesta at Rick's. To create his home-grill version of the tacos, the celebrity chef and Mexican-cooking expert relies on a quick marinade and thinly sliced pork shoulder. One bite of the smoky pork will take you south of the border without ever leaving your backyard.
Grilled Pork Tacos al Pastor
Recipe adapted from Fiesta at Rick's: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends (W.W. Norton & Company)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
One 3½-ounce package achiote marinade (available at Mexican markets)
3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 4 tablespoons canning sauce
¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing the onion and pineapple
1½ pounds thinly sliced pork shoulder (¼-inch slices are ideal)
1 medium red onion, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
¼ of a medium pineapple, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
20 corn tortillas, warmed
1½ cups salsa
1. In a blender, combine the achiote with the chipotle chiles, sauce, oil and ¾ cup water and blend until smooth. Using a third of the marinade, smear about 1 tablespoon over both sides of each slice of the meat. Refrigerate the remaining marinade to use on other meat or on fish. Transfer the meat to an airtight container and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Prepare one side of the grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat and one side of the grill for indirect cooking over medium-low heat.
3. Brush the onion slices with oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill the onions on the hot side of the grill until well browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the onions to the cool side of the grill to finish softening them.
4. Brush the pineapple slices with oil. Grill the pineapple on the hot side of the grill until warmed through and grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pineapple to the cool side of the grill.
5. Grill the pork over the hot side of the grill, turning once, until slightly charred and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the meat, onions and pineapple to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Season with salt. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately with the tortillas and salsa.