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Tacos al Pastor: Pork Butt or Pork Loin?

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  • zzdocxx
    replied
    Originally posted by Michael_in_TX View Post
    Ever since I've learned of the existence of tacos al pastor, I've wanted to try it...the earthiness of the marinade; the sweetness of the pineapple.

    If you're not familiar with it, it is thinly sliced cuts of pork, marinated in a chili sauce, then cooked on a spit with the pork slices interspersed between pineapple slides. The cooked pork is then shaved into corn tortillas and garnished with grilled and fresh pineapple, diced onion, and cilantro. Basically, street tacos.

    Now that I have a Pit Barrel Cooker, I must do tacos al pastor as I found a video on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3CgiNQfLP0) on TheHollarBBQ's channel in which he uses the PBC turkey hanger as the "spit." I just gotta do it after seeing that.


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    Now, there are a decent number of tacos al pastor videos and recipes on the internet. To be sure, much of the variance in is in the pastor marinade, but one primary difference is the cut of pork used. I'd say about 75% of them use pork butt or shoulder, while the rest -- including Steven Raichlen, to my surprise -- use pork loin.

    Both cuts of pork are prepared consistently the same: 1/4" to 1/2" slices, marinated overnight, then baked or smoked for several hours (often piled up on a skewer with pineapple rings spaced in between the slices). The videos that do mention a final internal temp seem to be pulling the pork when it hits 160-165 for the pork butt and 150 for the pork loin.

    My thinking and inexperience makes me want to try pork butt over loin as it is fattier (more flavorful?), but only if I can get it tender and it surprises me that people are pulling it so early (as opposed to 190 or 203). Perhaps the thinness of the slices helps make it tender, even at such a low temperature for cooking pork butt. (And even in the video I linked above, the pork sure seems to be shredding nicely.)

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    Which cut do yall think would work best?
    Holy Moley that looks good ! ! !

    PS I also would vote for pork butt.

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael_in_TX
    replied
    It turned out fantastic! Incredible and unique flavor profile, very earthy. The tacos were fantastic. I absolutely plan on making it again.

    Leave a comment:


  • fzxdoc
    commented on 's reply
    ...continued... It sure seems like a fun thing to try.


    patcrail , that was me who posted that link to making Turkish style or German style doner kebab. I still want to do that, but I also want to make those buns that they served it on. Wow that looked good.
    https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...176#post843176

    Kathryn

  • fzxdoc
    commented on 's reply
    When making tacos al pastor, shawarma or doner in the PBC, I think the key to those crispy tasty edges must be in the stacking method: largest diameter on the bottom, graduating to a smaller diameter for each layer up.

    I'm still wondering about the final temp to pull the meat, unless, as you suggest, Troutman , that the tasty bits are shaved off during the process. May need a large solid layered mass of meat for that. Maybe instead: portion-sized pieces for each round, maybe 8-10 rounds?

    K.
    Last edited by fzxdoc; August 2, 2020, 08:08 AM.

  • fzxdoc
    replied
    So how did it turn out, Michael_in_TX ?

    Have you made any since?

    Kathryn

    Leave a comment:


  • patcrail
    commented on 's reply
    Troutman great point, exactly what I’ve been struggling with trying to decide how to attempt Gyros (Shwarma?) I saw a post by (I think, not sure) fzxdoc where a woman just created the thin strips from ground (minced in UK?) meat & pan-fried quickly, giving them that same “doneness” all over. I believe I’m going to try something along those lines for the same reasons you mention here

  • Michael_in_TX
    replied
    Welp, I've got ~5 lbs of pork butt marinating in the fridge at the moment. The PBC hanger came today, and well, I just gotta try that method.

    Had an unexpected experience slicing the pork....so I was looking at the bonelesspork butts at the store and they were all 3-4 lbs. I then saw a nice 5 lbs one that looked near perfect so I snatched it up.

    While slicing my knife hits this unexpected impenetrable.....thing. It took me longer than it really should have to realize what I had was a bone-in roast that got mixed in with the boneless ones. Oops. Cutting around the blade bone was challenging, but I managed.

    Leave a comment:


  • Potkettleblack
    replied
    Loin at 150 is not particularly fun to eat. I would only take the loin to 140, 145 at peak if you go that way. 140, as it'll coast to 145, easy.

    Shoulder is much more forgiving, more flavorful, cheaper... has all the advantage.

    Leave a comment:


  • rickgregory
    replied
    If you can't shave and grill, shave as much as you think you'll eat (or all of it...) and grill/sauté it to crisp it up.

    Leave a comment:


  • KarchyBBQ
    replied
    Definitely pork butt. Worth your time for sure! If you’re able to shave as the outer layer develops crust you’ll be rewarded, but not necessary.

    Leave a comment:


  • DreamOn
    replied
    I love the al Pastor flavor palette 😋. But I make it as nachos. I honestly don’t make it on purpose though. It’s what I do with the leftover pork BBQ of whatever cut I used.

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael_in_TX
    replied
    Originally posted by Troutman View Post
    With an authentic trompo; however, it continues to cook and develop additional bark and flavor. With the one time cook, you find yourself with just plain inner layers.

    The only way I can think to end the dilemma, as un-sexy as it might be, is to grill individual slices by themselves on the grill. Each piece has seasoning and bark to the extent you want it, in each and every slice.

    Anyway not trying to be a boo bird, I've been wanting to do this type of cooking, I just can't figure out how to replicate the original without having to sit there and carve, cook, carve, cook etc. etc.
    I can't deny that logic. Hmm. One of the videos I watched actually does carving while it is on the rotisserie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6iv55ZYlOg). And they talk about exactly what you mention.....long cook and cut off as you need to feed people so the edges are constantly getting barked up. (They also carve it into a wok, so the carved bits crisp of a bit, too.)

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    Well, heck. If the pineapple gets mushy and the only the tips of the meat slices will get bark.....I may be rethinking my approach!

    Leave a comment:


  • barelfly
    commented on 's reply
    surfdog check out this link, has my al pastor tacos as well as a photo of the book, which has been excellent! Every recipe ha sheen great.

    https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...esday-everyday

  • surfdog
    commented on 's reply
    barelfly Taco book?

  • Michael_in_TX
    commented on 's reply
    That is what I may do....just grill the pineapple separately.

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