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Unread 03-09-2014, 09:38 PM   #1
ThePerfectBeard
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Question Smoked Tacos Al Pastor?

Hi everyone,

I'm brand new to the forum. I just got my first smoker, a WSM 18.5. One of the first things I want to try and do is smoke a version of Tacos Al Pastor. I'm trying to think about the best way to go about this. Normally you slice a pork butt in 1/4" slices and marinate in a pineapple and mexican chile marinade. I'm trying to think of a way to smoke a whole butt like this. I'm guessing there's two ways to go about it.

First, I would imagine that I could make large slits in the pork butt and marinate the butt as normal. I would probably have to tie it together while smoking to get the best effect. Problem is I'm not sure I would get a crust like this or how effective the marinade would be while smoked. It would probably only take a few hours though.

Second, I was thinking some sort of rub with guajillo chiles, oregano, and cumin. After that I could spray it with some pineapple juice or something. I'm not sure this flavor would penetrate the meat though and season all of the pork.

Anyone have success making these kind of tacos on a smoker?
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Unread 03-09-2014, 09:53 PM   #2
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Cut the butt into chunks like I did for my carnitas?

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Unread 03-09-2014, 10:01 PM   #3
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How about making the same slices you normally would EXCEPT dont go all the way through(think hasselback baked potato). Do your regular marinade process and make sure lots of marinade gets between the slices. THEN when she's ready to go on, tie her up really well back into solid pork butt form and let it roll.


...maybe make a tiny bit of marinade to put in the foil if you are a foil kinda guy.


Just an idea
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Unread 03-09-2014, 10:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lantern View Post
How about making the same slices you normally would EXCEPT dont go all the way through(think hasselback baked potato). Do your regular marinade process and make sure lots of marinade gets between the slices. THEN when she's ready to go on, tie her up really well back into solid pork butt form and let it roll.


...maybe make a tiny bit of marinade to put in the foil if you are a foil kinda guy.


Just an idea
I like that idea! Good thinking!
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Unread 03-09-2014, 11:24 PM   #5
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I can see buying a boneless butt, and marinating it over night. Then tying it back up, although that is not really necessary either, and smoking it. I have smoked boneless butts that I dry rubbed for 12 hours to great effect. A lot more bark and flavor gets into the meat better.
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Unread 03-10-2014, 01:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePerfectBeard View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm brand new to the forum. I just got my first smoker, a WSM 18.5. One of the first things I want to try and do is smoke a version of Tacos Al Pastor. I'm trying to think about the best way to go about this. Normally you slice a pork butt in 1/4" slices and marinate in a pineapple and mexican chile marinade. I'm trying to think of a way to smoke a whole butt like this. I'm guessing there's two ways to go about it.

First, I would imagine that I could make large slits in the pork butt and marinate the butt as normal. I would probably have to tie it together while smoking to get the best effect. Problem is I'm not sure I would get a crust like this or how effective the marinade would be while smoked. It would probably only take a few hours though.

Second, I was thinking some sort of rub with guajillo chiles, oregano, and cumin. After that I could spray it with some pineapple juice or something. I'm not sure this flavor would penetrate the meat though and season all of the pork.

Anyone have success making these kind of tacos on a smoker?
First off, welcome to the BBQ Brethren forum! Hope you will post often - we are here to help and there's always lots of good perspective from a diversity of our members.

I'm not sure I'm going to answer your question exactly as you asked it, but here goes, and this is just my opinion:

Al Pastor, whether cooked on a spit or in the more readily available version that is cooked on a hot griddle to a point where the meat is is crispy and slightly blackened on the edges is the optimal way of preparing this meat.

Why?

Smoking it as you have suggested, if cooked to the point of the meat falling apart would yield you lots of tender, possibly mushy meat. I don't think that's what you are after, but of course, I could be wrong. You'll get some great flavor on the bark of the pork, but the inner part will be neutral.

Then there's carmelization:

All the goodness of the al Pastor marinade come together when the meat is cooked over high heat, which lends itself beautifully to wonderful crisp edges that retain the flavor of the marinade.

Therefore, another approach, and one that's worked for me, is to cook pre-marinated pork shoulder slices, indirect, and then crisped up for a final sear. The indirect part of the cook allows for the meat to absorb an ample amount of smoke, which is what I think you are looking for, but will give you the texture that is perfect for tacos. And keep in mind, that since the meat is sliced thinly, you'll have that smoky flavor in each bite, as opposed to doing a whole butt. Even better, you'll get the wonderful effect of camrlization, which I described earlier.

You can see how I did that HERE.



And here's the marinade I used:

Al Pastor Taco Marinade

3 guajillo chiles
2 ancho chiles
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup orange juice
¼ cup white vinegar

2 cloves or ¼ tsp
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 onion, peeled and sliced thin

2-3 pounds boneless pork butt, sliced as close to 1/4 inch as possible


Combine two cups of water, the dried chiles and the bay leaf in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, and let stand until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain. Discard bay leaf, seed and stem chiles.


Put softened chiles in a food processor with the orange juice, vinegar, cinnamon, salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and one sliced onion. Puree until smooth.


Pour the marinade into Ziploc or a seal-able container add the meat and toss to coat. Refrigerate 24 to 48 hours.



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Unread 03-10-2014, 04:16 AM   #7
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I'm gonna try your recipe Moose, thanks for sharing.
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Unread 03-10-2014, 06:37 AM   #8
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Here is a cook I did with a tenderloin, I'm sure you could follow the same process with a shoulder. I understand the desire to long smoke the meat, but not every recipe lends itself to that style of cooking. Try it hot and fast, over a live fire with some flavor wood mixed in and you won't be disappointed.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=163654
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Unread 03-10-2014, 08:57 AM   #9
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Thanks for the warm welcome everyone, you can be assured that I will be posting here as often as possible. Hopefully it's not always to ask questions

Moose, you make some really good points about the mushy meat and wanting a crispiness to the pork. Not to mention your recipe and tacos look fantastic! I was actually going to do the large slits in a bone-in butt that other suggested. Then I was going to marinate the full butt, smoke it, and then slice it up up. After that I was going to dry season and put the pieces back on the grill to crisp them up. This way it's almost treating them like burnt ends.

Thanks for the suggestions guys! I'm going to try it a few ways and get back to you. It's all about experimentation right?
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