This was a delicious accident. My tortillas were less than stellar so I decided to forgo my taco plans and instead smother the tortillas in al pastor sauce and cheese. The tortillas turned from lackluster into tender morsels of spicy, sweet goodness. A couple weeks ago, I took my daughter to a puppet show at In the Heart of the Beast. Afterwards, I picked up a bunch of dried peppers (guajillo, pasilla, ancho, chipotle) at a Mexican grocery store. I was on a mission to buy peppers so that I could make pork al pastor, but shopping in the market was also a fun and delicious way to give my daughter a dose of culture.
Traditional al pastor is sweetened with pineapple and is served by cutting the meat off a spit, similar to doner kebab. The meat has a smoky, sweet flavor with nice bits of crispy char. I planned to make my meat in a slow cooker so I bought dried chipotle pepper (smoked jalapeno) to mimic the barbecued flavor. Once you have the peppers, then it’s simply a matter of reconstituting, seasoning, and turning them into a paste. Buying the peppers is really the most difficult part. I promise. Substitutions are possible, but canned chipotle in adobo or ancho powder will not give you the complexity and depth of flavor that makes the sauce so delicious. And today became the day to tackle the bag of peppers that have beckoned me for weeks. The prep was a cinch and the cooking even easier. Why did I wait so long?
Once the peppers have reconstituted, you simply whir the peppers in the blender with a bit of pepper liquid, salt and honey and then you’re left with a thick, dark red, beautiful sauce. From here you can spice it up and make a red enchilada sauce. Or, you can al pastor the sauce with some crushed pineapple (or pineapples chunks), salt and chicken bouillon. From there, you simply dump it on some pork shoulder in a slow cooker, cook it until fork tender, shred it, and then call it a day. Easy peasy! The al pastor pork is delicious as a taco on a corn tortilla with minced cilantro and white onion or on a flour tortilla with shredded cheese and onion or as the filling for chimichangas, quesadillas, nachos, and enchiladas.
I originally planned to use my pork as taco filling. As luck would have it (not my initial thought), my corn tortillas were covered in a blanket of ice crystals and someone left the bag of flour tortillas open and they had hardened. My solution was to roll the pork in the flour tortillas, smother them in the remaining al pastor sauce and lots of cheese, cook the casserole until bubbly and then call it a day (part two). The extra step was worth it. The enchiladas were delicious as is or you can dress them up with some cilantro, crema, or anything else your little heart desires (how about an egg. Yum!)