Adrian Davila, third-generation pitmaster, barbecue chef and restaurateur at his family’s acclaimed Davila’s BBQ in Seguin, Texas, shares this delicious taco recipe!
Adrian owns and operates the neighborhood institution that has been run by his family since 1959. At Davila’s, the signature dishes, such as underground Mexican-style barbacoa, trace their culinary roots back to the vaqueros, the Latin cattle herders who once roamed the plains of Texas and Mexico. These resourceful cowboys may have been the first ‘pitmasters’— they dug actual pits to slow-smoke whole animals into tender succulence, and infused the local ingredients with the pungent, bright flavors of the Iberian Peninsula.
Today, Davila keeps the tradition of the past alive in his restaurant, in the pages of his cookbook, Cowboy Barbecue: Fire & Smoke from the Original Texas Vaqueros, and he’s sharing one of the most recognized street tacos in the Americas with you — Tacos al Pastor. The recipe has its roots in trompo, which is the meat you see being sliced from a rotating vertical skewer. Lebanese immigrants brought the shawarma-style to Mexico, and in Greece you will find a similar recipe in a gyro. Both traditionally use lamb meat, hence the name, but in Mexico and South America al pastor is made with juicy pork.
Combine the diced pineapple, tomatoes, chopped onion, orange juice, all the chilies, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Arrange the pork in a large, nonreactive dish or casserole. Pour the pineapple mixture over the meat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
Thirty minutes before cooking, prepare a direct-heat fire in your grill at medium heat. Be sure the grill is clean so that the meat does not stick.
Remove the meat from the refrigerator, and grill the pork, the pineapple slices and the sliced onion until the meat is browned on the outside and firm (the color is hard to judge because of the marinade). Turn the meat, pineapple and onion every few minutes. The pineapple is done when the rounds have char lines but not so cooked that they fold over on themselves when flipped. The onion will have grill marks and start to become translucent. This will take a different amount of time for each ingredients, depending on the heat and placement on the grill, but about 12 to 15 minutes.
Chop the pork, onion and pineapple together, all at once (preferably with a cleaver) to fuse the flavors.
Serve the meat mixture in doubled-up, warmed tortillas garnished with chopped cilantro, lemon wedges, jalapeño slices and salsa.
Arie Boris has extensive travel industry experience, including business and sales development for commercial aviation, the International emergency assistance & travel insurance industry and a national association of travel agents. He was a contributing editor to several print and Internet travel publications, including Fieldings’ Worldwide Cruise Guide and was part of the start up team for CruiseCritic. He has written over 400 cruise ship reviews. Arie also produces and hosts Cruise Gourmet Voyages, a variety of fundraising & theme group cruises for various charitable and arts organizations. He has produced theme cruises for a variety of special interest groups including opera, comedy, spiritual retreats and fan clubs for TV shows like Dark Shadows and Dancing with the Stars!