Smokey chile-flavored pork with sweet grilled pineapples, tacos al pastor are a sure-bet crowd pleaser.
Combining Mexican seasonings with Mideastern style spit-roasted meats, tacos al pastor was originally developed by Lebanese immigrants in Central Mexico. Similar to a shawarma, gyro, or döner, al Pastor is traditionally prepared on a spit over an open flame. However, unlike shawarma, which is prepared with lamb, tacos al pastor are prepared using chile-marinated pork. The meat is shaved from the spit and served in a corn tortilla with chunks of warmed pineapple. The result is smoky, spicy, and sweet.
Sounds delicious, right? But can it be made at a camp site? With a few modifications, absolutely! Roasting the pork over an open fire on a rotating spit might sound fun, but we found that by simply grilling the pork, the entire recipe becomes a lot more approachable.
The first step is performed at home. Prior to your camping trip, you’ll want to prepare the chile marinade. Now, there are a lot of different ways to make this marinade, ranging from pre-made and store-bought to handcrafted and elaborate. We chose the middle path by mixing our own blend of powdered spices. The meat isn’t supposed to be spicy per se, but rather have an earthy, smoky flavor. We settled on ancho and New Mexico chile powders, cumin, garlic powder, oregano and white vinegar. Mix that all together with the pork inside a ziplock bag and put it in the refrigerator. Right before you leave, pop the ziplock bag in your cooler and off you go.
At the campsite, it’s time to start grilling. Set up your grill and get the fire up to temperature. Remove the marinated pork from the ziplock bag and place over medium high heat. You’ll want to flip the meat periodically to ensure even cooking. The goal is to cook the pork all the way through while producing slightly crispy edges on the outside. Remove and let rest.
Now you can add the pineapple slices to the grill. These slices can either be fully grilled or just warmed. Once they’re done, remove and stack on top of the pork chops to create a stacked tower. Use a chef's knife to cut vertically, slicing both the pork and pineapple. As you’re about to serve, you can also warm up some tortillas over the grill.
The warming, smoky aroma and subtle spice of the pork combined with sweet tropical flavor of pineapple makes a perfect pairing. With a little bit of preparation at home, this meal is super quick and easy to prepare at a campsite. So the next time you’re going camping, try serving up a round of tacos al pastor.
Tacos Al Pastor
- BioLite CampStove 2 - Grilling over an open fire is what gives al pastor pork it's signature crispy texture. Using just small sticks and twigs for fuel, the CampStove 2 is one of the fastest ways to start grilling at a campsite.
- BioLite Portable Grill - With enough space to hold three decent-sized pork chops, the BioLite Portable Grill is the perfect size for smaller groups. It heats up quickly, allowing you to get cooking much faster than over a traditional wood fire.
- Tongs - Tongs are an absolute must for transferring ingredients to and from the grill, flipping and rearranging.
- Chef's Knife - A good, sharp chef's knife is an essential piece of camp cooking equipment.
- 1 ½ tablespoons New Mexico chile powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder (sometimes labeled as pasilla chile powder)
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup white vinegar
- 1 ½ - 2 lbs pork shoulder
- 1 can pineapple rings
- Tortillas, cilantro, diced red onion, and limes for serving
- At home, mix the spices, salt, and vinegar in a large bowl to make the marinade. Slice the pork shoulder into ¾ inch chops. Add the pork to the bowl of marinade and coat well. Transfer the pork and marinade to a ziplock back and store in your cooler. The pork should marinate for at least 2 hours but will be even better the next day.
- At camp, fire up your CampStove 2 with the Portable Grill attachment. Once the grill is hot, place the pork on the grill surface and cook 5-7 minutes on each side, until the pork is completely cooked through. Repeat until all the pork is cooked, then set aside. Place the pineapple rings on the grill and cook for a minute or two on each side.
- Serve & enjoy!
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