Cinco De Mayo was yesterday! Lots of people think it’s Mexico’s independence day but it’s actually a date to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Not that I need an excuse to eat Mexican food, but it definitely inspired me to try something I haven’t done at home before. There are so many taco trucks in LA and my favourite thing to order are al pastor tacos. Al Pastor marinade is a combination of vinegar, spices and chiles, usually used on pork, and then spit grilled. It’s based on shawarma brought to Mexico by lebanese immigrants and it’s absolutely incredible.
I wanted to recreate that taco truck flavour at home, with my own twist. I opted to use chicken instead of pork and my instant pot instead of a spit grill. First of all, who has a spit grill at home? If you do, I’m very jealous but also, WHO ARE YOU??? Secondly, I like the ease of the instant pot. It infuses flavour quickly and makes tender pulled chicken. Perfect for a taco!
After reading up about al pastor online I cobbled together an authentic-ish marinade using ingredients you can find at the most basic of grocery stores.
Al Pastor Marinade
1/2 cup pineapple juice (from a tin of diced pineapple)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 diced red onion
3-4 cloves garlic
3-4 dried guajillo chiles
2 packages boneless skinless chicken (I used one breast, one thighs)
Small corn tortillas
Queso fresco crumbling cheese (or cotija, even feta could work!)
Canned pineapple (the one ya got the juice from!)
Roasted tomatillo salsa
- Roast your dried chiles over medium heat in a dry pan. A few minutes on each side. Let them cool. Remove the stem and seeds. Wash your hands after and don’t jam your fingers in your eyes!
- Put chiles back in pan and cover with water. Let simmer in water for 4-5 minutes to soften them.
- Add chiles and all other marinade ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Pour over your chicken (I used a corning ware dish) and let marinate for at least at hour.
- Add chicken to instant pot and pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. Don’t release the pressure yet! Let sit on “warm” for 15 minutes.
- Release the pressure and remove the lid. Shred chicken using two forks. Use the “sauté” feature to reduce some of the liquid. Stir frequently for about 5-6 minutes.
- In a heavy pan, heat your tortillas over medium heat until soft on each side.
- Place some pulled al pastor chicken on each tortilla and top with pineapple, cheese, onion, salsa and squeeze of lime.
YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM. Sooooo much flavour bouncing around the old mouth hole. It has a bit of heat but it’s not overwhelming. Definitely add your favourite hot sauce if you want a bit more zip! It’s sweet, slightly spicy, tangy and complex. I feel like it activated every part of my tastebuds. The cheese adds a creamy salty pop and onion gives a nice crunch. That last squeeze of citrus just elevates the whole thing. I served this with some re-fried black beans but you could do any sides you wanted! This would also be delicious on top of Mexican rice or quinoa. You could also use pork or beef instead of chicken. This marinade would taste great on any protein!
You could also make this in your slow cooker if you don’t have an instant pot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Annnnd if you’re really feeling like you need that grilled flavour and texture, I suggested marinating your chicken for at least 6 hours and then grilling up the thighs on the BBQ. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.
I know that Cinco de Mayo is now over, but you can enjoy al pastor chicken tacos any day of the year.
What are you waiting for? Eat this and shut up! 😉