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Lunch / Dinner

Street Loaf for Tacos al Pastor

This popular Mexican street food is the ultimate in fusion cuisine — tacos and shawarma. It requires a little patience, but this mostly hands-off dish is worth the wait.

Tacos al pastor starts with sliced pork that’s marinated with chiles, spices, and pineapple. The pork slices are then stacked on a vertical spit, called a trompo, and roasted. As the pork cooks and caramelizes it’s shaved off the loaf and is served in any number of ways, tacos being one. If this technique sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The Lebanese who settled in central Mexico developed al pastor using the same spit-roasting technique they used for shawarma back home.

Since most people don’t have access to a spit at home, we developed a recipe using a technique that closely mimics that of the traditional method. Marinated sliced pork is layered into a loaf pan, then baked in the oven. The loaf is then sliced and the meat sautéed. Even though this seems like it’s a huge production, the loaf can be made several days ahead of serving, so when you’re hungry for tacos, they can be cooked up in a flash. And don’t forget the Pineapple Salsa.


8 servings

Total Time

2 days + sautéing

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For the marinade, toast chiles in a saucepan over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until browned and aromatic, 5 minutes. Add water, bring to a boil, then remove pan from heat, and soak chiles, covered, (making sure they’re submerged) until very tender, at least 30 minutes.

Purée chiles and water with vinegar, garlic, salt, oregano, annatto, agave, chipotle, adobo sauce, and cumin in a food processor; transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in sausage, bacon, onion, and cornmeal.

For the loaf, slice pork roast into ½-inch-thick slices; pound each to 1/4-inch thick, then add to marinade, coating each slice.

Layer pork slices and marinade in a 9×5-inch loaf pan (pan will be overfilled), pressing meat down as much as possible. Place pan on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, set another baking sheet on top, then weigh down with a castiron skillet; refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 275°. Unwrap pan, leaving it on the baking sheet. Roast loaf 4 hours, covering top with foil after 2 hours. Remove pan from oven; pour drippings into a fat separator. Separate fat from juices and reserve both; cool loaf to room temperature. Cover and chill loaf in pan at least 2 hours, or up to a few days. When ready to eat, thinly slice loaf (slices may fall apart).

Heat 2 Tbsp. reserved fat in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Sauté half the slices until meat is crispy, 35 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp. reserved juices; cook until absorbed. Repeat sautéing with remaining meat slices and 2 Tbsp. each fat and juices.

For the tacos, serve meat in tortillas with Cotija, lime wedges, and Pineapple Salsa.


Pound the sliced pork roast thinly and evenly so it absorbs the marinade, and cooks uniformly.


After pressing the pork and marinade down in the pan as much as possible, cover the pan with a baking sheet and cast-iron skillet to keep it weighed down.


When ready to eat, thinly slice loaf (slices may fall apart).


Sear the sliced pork loaf, in two batches, for the best browning on the meat.

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