I’ve found that some of the best food in Mexico, including tacos, is roadside — doled out from street carts, and at small loncherias, or lunch counters, often found in local markets. I first tasted one of my favorites, tacos al pastor, just outside of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. Similar to schwarma, spit-cooked meat brought by the Lebanese to Mexico, tacos al pastor features pork marinated in chiles and cooked rotisserie-style.
For an easy home version, I roast the pork shoulder until fork tender and serve it with a variety of garnishes, including grilled pineapple. You could also add chunks of fresh pineapple to the roasting pan during the last hour of cooking. I like to serve the meat in fresh hot corn tortillas or cabbage leaves.
This recipe is from A Mouthful of Stars. Click here for more information on the cookbook.
Combine the sugar and salt in a small bowl. Place the pork in a roasting pan or Dutch oven and rub the sugar-salt mixture all over. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Remove the pork from the pan and discard any excess liquid. Rinse the pork, pat dry, and place it back in the clean roasting pan.
Combine the red chili powder with the oregano, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix to combine. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork. Pour the beer over the pork. Cover the pan tightly with the lid or aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours.
Uncover the pork and add the onion and 3 quarters of the orange (save 1 quarter for squeezing over the pork just before serving). Decrease the heat to 325°F and cook for another 1 to 2 hours. If using, add the pineapple chunks during the last hour of cooking. The pork should be tender and easily pulled with a fork; if the fork test does not work, cook for another 30 minutes and test again. Remove from the oven and let sit, covered or lightly tented with foil, for up to 30 minutes. Use forks to gently pull apart the meat. Squeeze the juice from the remaining orange quarter over the pork and serve with the accompaniments.
To make a taco, place the roasted pork in a cabbage leaf or tortilla, and top with salsa, radish slices, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.