Friday, December 24, 2010

Al Pastor High and Low.

From 1800 south to 4700 north this week I've been dedicated to scouting the great wide open of this city for Al Pastor.  From pork belly to pork butt everyone's got their cut of meat and from spicy to mild everyone's got their heat (yes I rhymed on purpose, my apologies).  Taqueria El Milagro-Pilsen, Wholefoods Taqueria-Kingsbury Store and El Ranchito-next to Carol's Pub on Clark, don't act like you don't know where Carol's Pub is!  I love them all.  I would have to say that El Ranchito is my favorite and maybe it's my north side bias but it had so much flavor.  I had Al Pastor Sope.  The masa dough sope had just the right amount of crunch surrounding the soft, corny inside.  Everywhere I go, when I like something I always ask what's in it.  I have a knack of being able to figure out what is usually inside of something just by tasting it, a skill I built while working at some great restaurants and having eclectic ingredients and wine tastings-wine tastings really are a palate tuner, especially if you have an excellent wine director as a coach.  But with this knack I still like to ask cooking method and ingredients to test myself.  I thought it was cute when the dude's at wholefoods said, "some spices, lime, things like that.  Why are you allergic to something?"  I just smiled and said, "No, but thanks."  When I paid, the tag receipt had the list of ingredients.  I had gotten more information from the young waitresses that I could barely talk to with my broken Spanish.  On the summer menu of One Sister Underground, I had al pastor cured pork belly, cooked sous vide with pineapple and onion.  It was good but not perfect but it was one of my first al pastor attempts.  Most people did comment that it was their favorite.  This time I think I've perfected it.  It's for the pork sandwich for my event this weekend.
Here is the marinade/brine:
Note this is for 15 pounds of pork, so cut in half or third is good for a family dinner even if you are just brining two to three pounds.  I cut mine into 2 inch cubes.
1 qt. 14 oz. can pineapple juice-if you have time, fresh juiced.
1600g Pork stock-I used shoulder and shank bones and added coriander seeds and Mexican oregano to this stock, knowing it was for this.  You can also use chicken stock or veg stock-infuse with spices if you like.
2 cups h2o
2 oranges, squeezed-juice only
2 limes, squeezed-juice only
2 can chipotle peppers 630g
4 crushed dried pasilla chilis
2 dried pasilla chilis ground in spice grinder and sifted
1 onion, chopped
3 clove garlic
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1 fresh jalapeno
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 T Cumin
3 bay leaves
40 peppercorns
Let marinate for 24 hours, cook in oven at 250 for three hours in brining liquid until tender but not falling apart, let cool and chop to create al pastor type texture.  Or cook 4 hours until tender and falling apart, once cool, pull for pulled pork.  Or cook in sous vide with a touch of the liquid, 180 for 3-4 hours, cool and chop.  Once chopped you can sear it in a pan with a touch of pineapple.  Reserve the cooking liquids, strain, cool, skim off fat, taste for seasoning, if salty-dilute with water, oj and pineapple juice, reheat and let reduce to saucy consistency.  Use this liquid to keep al pastor moist.

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