This Carne Al Pastor will blow your mind! It is full of flavor and absolutely delicious. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that you can choose to be fancy and make it trompo style, as shown here, or you can simply cook it on the stove. Let’s be real though, if you’re taking the time to make this meal and really want to entertain, you MUST stack it and cook it trompo style. I’ll be honest, the satisfaction of cooking that big o stack of meat and presenting it in all its glory is the best. Talk about a way to impress!
When I refer to a trompo I am talking about the traditional vertical rotisserie or rotating spit where stacks of marinated pork cook to make the Carne Al Pastor we all know. An actual trompo is one of those spinning top toys and that’s why it is called a trompo, it spins as it cooks. Fun fact: al pastor actually originated from a Middle Eastern way of cooking shawarma. Lebanese immigrants arrived to Mexico and introduced this way of cooking. Eventually Mexicans utilized this way of cooking and adapted it to use their preferred meat, spices, etc. All I have to say is thank goodness for the wonderful Lebanese who showed us this magic!
Alright, let’s talk about the marinade. It’s made out of a red sauce that gets its gorgeous deep red color from the guajillo peppers. Here’s what you’ll actually need:
- Dried guajillo peppers
- Dried ancho peppers
- Chipotle powder (optional but highly recommended)
- White vinegar
- Pineapple juice
Don’t be intimidated by the dried peppers. They are seriously a lot easier to work with than you think! If you can’t find Guajillo peppers then dried New Mexico peppers work just fine for this. The key to a smooth sauce is soaking the dried peppers in boiling hot water for a few minutes. This re hydrates the peppers making them soft and easy to blend. You can control the spice level of the sauce by removing the seeds and veins for a mild sauce or keeping these in place for a spicier sauce. Another tip to ensure a delicious sauce is to use the water you soak the peppers in to blend into the sauce.
Adding chipotle powder is optional but highly recommended because it adds a little spice and smokiness to the sauce. There is just something about the depth of flavor from using chipotle powder in the sauce. The sweetness of the pineapple juice and pineapple chunks pairs perfectly with any spiciness from this sauce.
I know this recipe may look or sound intimidating but trust me, you can do it! It is not meant to be an easy or quick meal because it’s a labor of love but 100% worth it! Save this for a fun dinner date, for entertaining, or just a delicious weekend meal. If you are entertaining with this I would absolutely recommend you make the trompo style. Talk about a WOW factor! Make some delicious al pastor tacos with this recipe and top it with my delicious pineapple slaw that you can find here. You can also sub the pork for chicken thighs or even thinly sliced steak. Hope you give it a try and let me know what you think. It is a winner in my book for sure!
Carne Al Pastor
- 3 lb pork butt or shoulder thinly sliced
- 5 guajillo peppers
- 1 ancho pepper
- ½ onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½-1 tsp chipotle powder optional* see note
- 2 tsp salt divided
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- ¼ cup pineapple diced
- 2 pineapple sliced for oven method
- 1 tbsp olive oil for stove top method
- Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers. Use gloves when handling peppers to avoid burning.
- Add water, peppers, onion, and garlic to small pot and bring to boil.
- Add pot contents, including water, oregano, chipotle powder, 1 tsp salt, vinegar, and pineapple juice to blender and blend until smooth.
- In a large container add pork and 1 tsp salt, making sure the salt is worked into the meat.
- Pour sauce on top and work into the meat well until all of it is covered.
- Cover and leave to marinate overnight or at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator.
- Place large pan over medium heat and add oil.
- Once oil is hot start adding pork and diced pineapple to pan in a single layer. Cook for 15 minutes or until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Continue to cook in batches and set meat aside.
- Add all of the cooked meat and pineapple to pan and sear for about 15 minutes. This will make meat a little crispy. Alternatively you can add all of the meat to a large baking sheet and place under broiler for 3-5 minutes to make a little crispy. (Watch carefully not to burn!).
- Slice or dice all the meat and pineapple when ready to serve.
Oven (to resemble a 'trompo')
- Soak 3 wooden skewers in water for at least an hour. Can use metal skewers instead.
- Remove the top rack in oven and preheat to 425°.
- Place a slice of pineapple on baking sheet and pierce skewers through it. This will make the base for the meat "tower".
- Start stacking the pork slices by piercing them through the skewers on top of the pineapple slice. Once all the meat is stacked, top with last pineapple slice.
- Cover exposed skewers, (if any), with foil to avoid burning.
- Place baking sheet on bottom rack and cook for an hour.
- Slice the meat down from top to bottom to create small strips.The drippings that accumulate on the baking sheet make the best marinade so don't discard.
- Once the meat is all sliced, keep on baking sheet and place under broiler for 3-5 minutes to make a little crispy.
- This 'trompo' style is for pure entertainment!