Al Pastor (Vegan & Oil Free)
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Al pastor is one of my very favorite Mexican dishes, but the original version is pretty high in saturated fat. After several months of dreaming, scheming, and research, I decided to tackle my own plant-based rendition.
Traditionally, al pastor tacos are a street food made from pork and pineapple. They were created in the 1930s in Puebla, Mexico by Lebanese immigrants who introduced the region to classic shawarma: roasted lamb served on pita bread (or flour tortilla). Al pastor was originally known as tacos arabes, and the meat used is cooked on an upright grill or spit, known as a trompo. The main difference between tacos al pastor and tacos arabes was the use of lamb, rather than pork, that isn't marinated but instead seasoned with a simple salt seasoning and served on a flour tortilla.
When the upright spit (or trompo) traveled outside of Puebla, tacos al pastor as we know it was born. Lamb was replaced with marinated pork, and fresh onions, cilantro, and salsa were added to the taco. The addition of pineapple to the dish is unknown and remains a delicious culinary mystery to this day!
I'm happy to report that you do not need a trompo, pork, or any oil to make this recipe. Give this healthy version a try and let me know what you think!
4 dried guajillo chilis, toasted and rehydrated*
1 dried ancho chili, toasted and rehydrated*
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 yellow onion, quartered
1 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange pineapple juice
1 tbsp. Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. ground paprika
1 tsp salt
4 - 14 oz. cans of jackfruit, drained, soaked, and drained thoroughly again
2 heaping cups of roughly chopped fresh pineapple
Gluten free tortillas, chopped raw onion, fresh cilantro, hot sauce, fresh lime juice for serving
*Heat a dry skillet over low heat. Add dried chilis to pan and toast lightly on each side 1-2 minutes each side. Be careful not to brown too much, it will make the sauce taste rancid. Immediately remove from pan to a medium-sized bowl and cover with boiling water. I place a small plate or another cup on top to make sure the chilis are completely submerged. Soak for at least 30 minutes. Remove the chilis from the water and remove the stems and rinse the seeds from the inside of the chilis.
In a high speed blender, add the cleaned, rehydrated chilis and all other ingredients, with the exception of the jackfruit and fresh pineapple. Process on high until smooth and creamy.
Pour the marinate through a sieve into a large bowl, using a flexible spatula to work the marinade through the sieve. Add strained jackfruit to the large bowl with the marinade, along with the roughly chopped pineapple. Marinate overnight.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the marinated jackfruit and pineapple to the baking sheet, arranging in a single layer. Reserve any leftover marinade for after baking. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes. The jackfruit dries up a bit in the oven so when you remove, stir in the leftover marinade until its moist, but not wet and soggy.
Take two forks and start shredding the jackfruit until it starts to look like shredded pork. Add more marinade, if necessary.
Serve inside a warm gluten free tortilla with plenty of chopped raw onions, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and hot sauce.