I’ve told you guys my al pastor story before, right? (Ugh, look at those crappy old pictures). You know…a taqueria opened up in the student center across the street from my dorm sophomore year, and I simultaneously discovered a deep passion for al pastor burritos and gained 10 lbs in one semester?
It was a great time. Back then, it was still easy to lose weight when I wanted to (I miss you, 18 yr old metabolism), so the temporary weight gain did not at all stop me from continuing my love affair with al pastor all through the rest of college. And when the student center briefly decided to stay open 24hrs a few days per week? Man oh man.
To this day, I’ve never met a burrito (or quesadillas, actually…those had cheese baked into the tortillas) I’ve loved more than the al pastor super burrito from Ana’s Taqueria. I’m not sure if it’s a nostalgia thing, or if the quality of food was just better there. Probably nostalgia, because when I went back to Ana’s a few years after Dan and I both graduated, the taste just wasn’t as magical, somehow.
Still, Ana’s al pastor lives on in our memories, and since moving down to VA, Dan and I have been on the hunt for an Ana’s replacement. Sadly, the al pastor void in my life has never been filled…until recently.
On a girls’ night with my friend Heather, we decided to go to a place called Taco Bamba for dinner. I thought it was going to be a standard sit-down Tex Mex restaurant, and was looking forward to tossing back a few margaritas and stuffing my face with something super cheesy/fried. But when we walked in the door I realized that I was in for a way different experience than expected.
The place was tiny, and the only seating available was some stools/counter space along the walls. No margaritas in sight. The menu offerings were primarily tacos, with the choice of meats being things like spicy goat, beef cheek/tongue, tripe, carnitas, and…al pastor!
For $10, I got 3 tacos (al pastor, carnitas, and beef cheek) and an ear of corn. All were delicious, but the al pastor was especially amazing. So amazing that I actually ordered a few extra tacos to-go so that Dan could also experience the magic. (I am the best wife)
That meal was two weeks ago, and I’m still thinking about it. We haven’t had a chance to go back to Taco Bamba yet, but we definitely will.
In the mean time, Gimme Some Oven’s crock pot al pastor is tiding us over. The recipe is insanely easy – all you have to do is throw some ingredients into a slow cooker and try not to gnaw your arm off while you wait for everything to cook. The end result is so worth the wait – unbelievably tender/juicy, flavorful, spicy (my tongue tingled for like 30 minutes after I ate it), and unspeakably delicious.
We ate our al pastor for lunch this weekend in tacos with chopped raw onion, avocado, and fresh pineapple (so good), but I’m thinking about making taquitos and quesadillas for dinner this week. I’m also thinking it will be impossible for us to eat 5 lbs of meat ourselves in a week, so…who wants to come over and get some?
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- 1 (5-pound) boneless pork shoulder roast, extra fat trimmed off
- 1 (12-oz.) bottle of beer (all I had was Blue Moon)
- 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
- 1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored, then roughly chopped
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- 3 tbsp chili powder (not cayenne)
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Corn tortillas, for serving
- (Optional) Toppings: crumbled goat cheese, (extra) diced fresh pineapple, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, chopped red onions, diced avocado (or guac), sour cream
- Cut your pork shoulder into chunks, roughly 2-inches all around.
- Place pork chunks into your slow cooker, and set aside.
- Place your chipotles in adobo, chopped pineapple, chopped red onion, chili powder, lime juice, white vinegar, salt, cumin and black pepper into a blender or food processor. Puree until the mixture is completely smooth, about 30-60 seconds.
- Add beer to the mixture and stir until it is evenly incorporated.
- Pour pureed mixture on top of the pork in your slow cooker, and toss until each piece of pork is coated with sauce.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours (or on high for 4-5 hours), stirring occasionally, until the pork is fork-tender.
- Turn slow cooker off and use two forks to shred the pork.
- Stir shredded pork so that it soaks up all the juices/flavor.
- Allow pork to soak for 10-15 minutes, then serve it warm, heaped on warmed corn tortillas.
- Garnish with optional toppings, if desired.
(Recipe from Gimme Some Oven)