It’s almost time for Morgan’s annual Super Birthday Bowl party. Not being much of a football guy myself, I am getting excited for the food. Normally, Morgan serves green chicken, beans, rice, fixin’s, and a nacho bar to kick the night off.
This year, she was inspired to try something new and bring al pastor into the mix. As somebody who thinks al pastor tacos are the best tacos in the world, I was happy to hear about this new addition.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with al pastor, it is pork that has been marinated and is slow roasted with pineapple. Most recipes call for pineapple to be placed under the meat as it roasts, and will commonly involve a grill, oven, or slow cooker. Reading the recipes got Morgan thinking . . . maybe the tagine would be perfect for making al pastor.
Given that this is prep for the Super Birthday Bowl party, why not throw in a little competition as well?
She decided to make two batches of al pastor, one in the tagine and one in a slow cooker.
Morgan took direction from a few sources in making her marinade. Nick Kindelsperger (@nickdk) at the Chicago Tribune, Katy Peetz (@katypeetz) at Tasting Table, and her best friend Aron (@pilhofer) in Philly all had different recipes for al pastor that she incorporated to make her own.
Her combo marinade recipe is included below:
- 2 dried guajillo chilies no stems, seeds (heated and soaked to rehydrate)
- 3 dried ancho chilies no stems, seeds (heated and soaked to rehydrate)
- 1 ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried cilantro
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup chicken broth
All of that goes into a food processor and is blended for three minutes or until everything is a juicy paste. She cut a pork shoulder into half inch thick steaks and fully coated each with the marinade. Finally, she let the steaks marinade for 24 hours, but you can do so for up to 48 hours.
In the slow cooker she put peeled half inch thick slices of pineapple on the bottom and about half of the marinated pork. After eight hours of cooking on low heat, she shredded the pork and cut up the pineapple into chunks.
For the tagine, she put the pineapple edges down as a raft, then a layer of pork and put it on low for three hours. Afterwards she put it in the broiler for three minutes, flipping the pork half way through. She served the tagine pork with cut up fresh pineapple.
A taste test found very little difference between the two. The slow cooker method produced a slightly more moist meat, but the meat from the tagine was still tender and had the benefit of a final broil to get the traditional crispy edges on the meat. She served the tacos with a sour cream and chipotle sauce, added cilantro, and an avocado spread. She was out of tomatoes, a necessary ingredient for guacamole.
In the end, both methods worked great. Using the tagine is good if you are serving four to six people, but the slow cooker method is ideal for large groups. The next experiment she wants to try is making al pastor in the new large tagine, but for her upcoming party she will stick with the slow cooker (it is her birthday after all).
If you are planning a Super Bowl party, try out this recipe yourself or check out our blog for grill basket recipes from last year’s Super Bowl. Just in time for the big game, we have grill baskets back in stock!