Monthly Archives: February 2011

'Al Pastor' by Chef Lance Avery

Defined as by Wikipedia: Al pastor (Spanish; “Shepherd style”) is a dish developed in Central Mexico, likely as a result of the adoption of the shawarma spit-grilled meat brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico.  Having derived from the shawarma, it is also similar to the Turkish doner kebab and the Greek gyros. Whereas döner is usually lamb-based (thus the “shepherd style” name), gyros and tacos al pastor in Mexico are made from pork.
I am obsessed by Al pastor.  It is how I evaluate every taqueria.  Probably because a good Al pastor takes time and you know when corners have been cut.  If the taqueria has quality Al pastor then more than likely the rest of what they serve is quality too.  And when it’s done right, it’s damn near orgasmic, especially during the end of a good night of drinking.  My favorite place in the whole city of Chicago is Allende; the Allende on 2408 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.  There is another Allende just south called Allende #2, but their Al pastor is not as good.  Don’t ask me why since it’s the same restaurant group, and probably the same recipe.  That’s why Al pastor is so intriguing.  It is very difficult to nail perfectly.  Without a vertical broiler (what they use in restaurants), it’s nearly impossible to match exactly but the following is a good home recipes that’s near perfection.  
To achieve the charring effect of a vertical broiler heat a sauté pan over medium high heat for 1 minute with a small amount of olive oil.  Add the chopped pork and cook until the meat browns around the edges of the meat.  Remove from the heat and serve over warm corn tortillas.  Spoon over the blended sauce, and top with minced raw onion, thinly sliced radish and chopped fresh cilantro.