Pulled Pork Al Pastor, Homestyle

by Jen on December 30, 2012

Today, I have a Tex-Mex-inspired (Texas via Paris) dish for you – Pulled Pork Al Pastor. My vegan and vegetarian friends, you may look away now, but wait – you – don’t leave me! If what’s on your mind is fork-tender meat that’s flavourful and braised to perfection without a trace of dryness, then you’ve come to the right place! I have just the recipe for you. I adapted this from a curious little cookbook called “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent” by expat culinary creative Ellise Pierce. She also has a blog with the same name.

If you want home-cooked pulled pork that sings like a fierce operetta, warble these 4 key secrets out loud: 1) use an earthenware or enamelled Dutch oven like Le Creuset or Staub; 2) use a cut piece of parchment paper to seal the meat in the Dutch oven – this locks in the moisture; 3) do not let the pot boil – long and slow does it; 4) pineapple is an essential component in tenderizing the meat, so don’t even think about leaving that out.

Stay true to the recipe and you will be rewarded with pulled pork that’s as cowboy as Texas…or Mexico…or Paris?! You’re going to love this – I did! Note that this is perfect for tacos as well. Pull out your corn tortillas, and serve the pork with the usual suspects: lime wedges, chopped onions, chopped jalapeños, and cilantro leaves. Liven it up with roasted tomato or tomatillo salsa and you’ve got yourself a fiesta!

Interesting enough, cooking al pastor (Spanish for ‘of the shepherd’) has its roots in Middle Eastern shawarma, an influence brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants. Typically, al pastor in Mexico is a chile-marinated meat that’s spit-roasted in a vertical rotisserie called a trompo. In Texas, where their cooking is heavily influenced by Mexico (hence the Tex-Mex moniker), al pastor is a mainstay. But because the regular home kitchen doesn’t usually have such a contraption, a Dutch oven is quite suitable for churning out equally delicious pulled pork.

Pulled Pork Al Pastor, Homestyle
5.0 from 10 reviews
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Recipe Type: Pork, Main Course
Prep time: 60 mins
Cook time: 120 mins
Total time: 3 hours
Serves: 4 to 6
Adapted, with slight changes, from “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent” by Ellise Pierce. Published by Running Press in 2012.
Ingredients
  • 2 to 3 pounds (1 – 1.5 kilos) boneless pork butt (pork shoulder picnic can be substituted)
  • vegetable or olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into half-moons
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • peel of 1 navel orange
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) orange-flavoured liqueur, such as Cointreau
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) adobo salsa*
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1/2 of a fresh pineapple, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 to 5 limes, sliced into wedges
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • handful of cilantro, finely chopped
Preparation
  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper 1 hour before cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C) and position a rack in the lowest level.
  3. Meanwhile, on the stove top over medium heat, drizzle with oil a Dutch oven big enough to hold the meat. When the pot is hot, brown your meat on all sides, then take it out and let rest on a plate.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the half-moon onion slices and garlic, and stir until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the orange peel and sauté for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the Cointreau liqueur and using a wooden spoon, scrape off the browned bits at the bottom of the pot.
  6. Whisk the adobo salsa with 1 cup of water and pour this mixture into the pot.
  7. Stir in the pineapple chunks, cumin, and oregano. Adjust seasoning at this point with some salt.
  8. Turn the heat off and add the pork back to the pot. The liquid should come up to about 1/3 on the side of the meat.
  9. Cut a piece of round parchment paper to fit down the pot and press this right onto the piece of pork. This will help keep the moisture in and thrown the juices back to the meat.
  10. Cover the pot and slide it onto the lowest rack. Cook for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, checking every now and then that it is simmering, not boiling. Flip the meat to the other side at about halfway point and place parchment paper back on top. It is ready when the meat falls away with a gentle tug of a spoon. Let this cool in the pot for a couple of hours to keep the juices locked in, before you shred the meat off. Do not throw out the cooking liquid, as you should store unused and unshredded meat in the braising liquid in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  11. Serve with lime wedges, onions, and cilantro on the side.
Notes

*To make adobo salsa: Take 5 dried guajillo chiles, 3 dried ancho chiles, 2 dried cascabel chiles and cut split open with kitchen shears. Remove seeds and veins and throw away the stems. Get out your comal or cast iron skillet, turn the heat to medium-low, and once surface is hot, put your split-open chiles directly onto the hot, ungreased surface. Using a wooden spoon, press them back until they curl up from the heat. They’re ready to flip to the other side when they begin to change colour, around 30 seconds per side. Once the chiles are toasted, put them in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes. Then, toast 3 garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns, until garlic is fragrant. Put the chiles, garlic, and black peppercorns in a blender or food processor, then add 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and a couple pinches of sea salt. Add a little bit of the chile soaking water, then pulse until well-blended. Keep the blender going and keep adding some of the chile water until the mixture is smooth. This adobo paste will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or the freezer for about 6 months.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

MizzJ December 30, 2012 at 2:30 am

Wow this looks amazing!!!

Reply

Raymund December 30, 2012 at 2:46 am

This is so moist, love how yon made it.
Anyways Have a prosperous New Year to you and your Family

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The Café Sucré Farine December 30, 2012 at 4:51 am

This is the dish I love at our favorite Mexican restaurant! Your version looks amazing. Gorgeous photos!

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Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet December 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Oh wow, this sounds amazing! I have to try this. You really filled the post on tips for making this dish. So helpful! PS: I want this bowl!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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Chocolate Shavings December 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm

The pork looks absolutely divine!

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Magic of Spice December 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I may be a vegetarian, but I would never look away…beautiful food is beautiful food! Plus, I have run across very few things that I was not able to make a delicious veggie substitution from ;)
Happy New Year Jen!

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Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet} December 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm

WOW – I absolutely love al pastor and order it whenever they have it on the menu. I am absolutely making your recipe and especially that adobo salsa. My mouth is watering now. Happy, Happy New Year!!! :-)

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Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) December 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm

This looks amazing. I don’t set pork but I am wondering if I can use chicken instead??

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Laura (Tutti Dolci) December 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm

This looks like the ultimate comfort food! I love the flavors and I have a little bit of bowl envy – those are beautiful!

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Eha December 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm

What a fascinating recipe to read: am trying to taste it peerusing the recipe – sweetish citrussy flavours come on the palate. The only way to see how onion and herbs balance is to try – immediately in the New Year!: hope it is a good one for you :) !

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Suzanne December 31, 2012 at 12:22 am

Looks like a fabulous pulled pork recipe and how interesting to add pineapple to the meat but I suppose that the acid in the pineapple helps break down that pork quite well. Yummy flavors in this recipe. Thanks Jen for your sweet comment on my blog. You are really quite talented and I could only hope to measure up to your caliber of cooking and blogging, cheers to you and your family for a happy new year!!

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amy @ fearless homemaker December 31, 2012 at 11:20 am

Oh, WOW! This looks absolutely amazing. And gorgeous pictures, as always!

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Sandra's Easy Cooking December 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm

MOUTHWATERING!!!!!!

I wish you and your gorgeous family an amazing NEW YEAR!!!! see’ya next year! :D xoxo

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Karen (Back Road Journal) January 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

Growing up in Texas, this is a dish you find on many menus but I don’t believe prepared anywhere as good as this must be.

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Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers January 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm

It’s shouting deliciousness to me! Mind if I join you next time you cook this? Fabulous as always Jen!

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Joanna @ Chic & Gorgeous Treats January 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Yummm! I love pulled pork and only made it once. Too bad the family chao down as soon I assembled the burger leaving me with no time to snap photos. LOL.. Will definitely make it again. Bookmarking this recipe too. Great clicks Jen. I love ♥ them..always leave here feeling inspired. Hugs, Jo

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julianaloh (@bilbaobab) January 3, 2013 at 7:27 am

YUM!!! this looks delish!!! both over rice and can imagine having them in a soft bun momofuku style. stunning photos and thanks for sharing the recipe!!

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Dorie @ BrooklynSalt January 3, 2013 at 9:35 am

I really wish I was making this right now.

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Julia {The Roasted Root} January 3, 2013 at 11:41 am

Boozed-up pulled pork? Don’t mind if I do! We do a lot of pork in my house and I’m constantly looking for recipes to change things up, so I’m definitely cooking up this recipe next time we do pork. It sounds amazing and I love the added Cointreau and orange!

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Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts January 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Yeah, pretty sure I will be making this soon – looks incredible!

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Nancy/SpicieFoodie January 4, 2013 at 10:05 am

Wow Jen what delicious photos and recipe! I love the authentic Mexican recipe with a French twist. Tacos al pastor are one of our favorites and I’d love to try this recipe too. Thanks for sharing & Happy New Year!

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Jean | Lemons and Anchovies January 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm

That is one gorgeous bowl of porky goodness. I’ll take two servings, please!

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Nami | Just One Cookbook January 5, 2013 at 3:23 am

I can eat this everyday! I have never thought of eating pulled pork with rice but that’s a great idea! Nice addition of adobo salsa. :)

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Patty January 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Hi Jen! I promise never to leave the pineapple out of this wonderfully flavored homey comforting pulled pork dish!!! Beautiful photos and inspiration for dinner- thanks my dear;-)

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Jessica January 7, 2013 at 7:05 am

Love your blog! Gorgeous photos and nice recipe. Love your table too, what a great surface to take pictures on. Thanks for sharing, so glad I came across this!

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joey @ 80 breakfasts January 8, 2013 at 9:45 am

Al Pastor is our (mine and my hubs) favorite filling for Mexican (or Tex-Mex) dishes! Bookmarking this recipe!! It looks amazing!

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mina January 9, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Can’t wait to try this! Al pastor was my favourite thing to eat in Mexico City. I haven’t been able to recreate it properly.

I’m always impressed by the variety of your dishes.

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Julie Monteyro June 19, 2013 at 3:13 am

Hi, is it possible to cook this in the slow cooker? If so, for how long? Thanks in advance :-)

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Jen June 19, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Hi, Julie! DEfinitely, you can use a slow cooker for this. I suggest 5 to 6 hours long on low setting, or until the meat is tender. It really depends on your slow cooker…Just keep checking after the 5- to 6-hour mark.

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