Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mexican Rotisserie Pork Loin Tacos

I wanted to try making tacos al pastor last night.  If you are not familiar with them, it is kind of like a gyro, only it uses pork on a huge vertical rotisserie.  The meat is sliced off in pieces for the tacos.

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia taco al pastor entry
The only problems were
  1. I didn't have 6 hours of prep time, 
  2. I've never made them before, and 
  3. I didn't have a vertical rotisserie.  

But I've never let being short on time, inexperienced, and under-equipped stop me before (wait, that sounds bad....).

Here is what I came up with on the fly using a regular rotisserie on my Brinkmann charcoal grill.  These little units are fantastic.  You can get a "universal" one that fits most charcoal or gas grills like this Mr. BBQ model from Target for $29.99.   You can spend more for heavier duty motors, but mine was a $30 unit and it's done well over the past year.

Mexican Rotisserie Pork Loin Tacos

Mexican Rotisserie Pork Loin Tacos

3 lb pork loin, boneless
1 ea large sweet onion

1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp turbinado sugar
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried chipolte pepper, ground

black beans, cheese, sour cream, cilantro

Score the fat cap side of the pork loin.  It's not 100% necessary but I also like to tie my pork loin roasts to keep them more uniform in shape.

Mix the spices together for your dry rub and season your pork loin.  Use all of the seasoning for one 3 lb roast.  It might seem a little heavy handed but it will balance out. 

pork roast for Mexican Rotisserie Pork Tacos

Place the roast onto your rotisserie rod and secure with the two end pieces.  Stick the onion on whole, you don't have to even worry about peeling it, the onion paper will burn off.

Set your grill up for indirect heat with the coals not directly under the rotisserie like this.

You might notice some of the coals in the picture are grey and some are just starting to catch.  I put 1/2 chimney full of unlit charcoal into the grill.  Then I added 1/2 chimney of lit charcoal.  This gives a longer burn time.  The lit coals provide the initial heat and then the unlit ones catch and maintain the heat as the others die down.  I was using regular (aka "blue bag") Kingsford, not Competition. 

As you cook it on the rotisserie with the grill lid open, the fat will start to render down and the roast will start basting itself as it spins.

You want to keep the temperature medium high around 400f.   I test it by holding my hand at the height of the pork roast, where I should be able to only hold my hand there for 3-4 seconds before having to pull it away.  That's a subjective measure but it works for me.  Cook until the roast hits an internal temperature of 145f.

Pull the roast at 145f and let it rest for at least 10 minutes on a raised rack.  It took 1 hour and 15 minutes last night but go by your temps, not cooking times.

The temp will rise 5-10 degrees during the rest.

Cut the roasted onion into wedges.  To mimic the shavings from tacos al pastor, slice very thinly at angles to get thin wedges of roast.  You are not trying to get whole slices all the way across.

Serve on flour tortillas with toppings of your choice.

Mexican rotisserie pork loin tacos

I was quite happy with how this turned out.  It was perfectly cooked, tender on the inside, crispy on the outside.  The rub basted with the pork fat delivered the flavor I was looking for.  It might not have been authentic tacos al pastor but it was authentically good!