May 2, 2010
Tacos al Pastor (pork tenderloin tacos with pineapple)
So I had corn tortillas, lime and cilantro left over from last night's steak fajitas and I had bought a pork tenderloin (solomillo de cerdo) at the market the day before which I had intended for an entirely different purpose, but things happen...
On a side note, pork tenderloin is about the easiest, most delicious, and cheapest no-fail dish that you can prepare. At the market in Spain it costs about 4 euros for a pork tenderloin (in Spain they are about the size of a 350ml bottle of watter, a corncob or an old school mobile telephone sans antenna), that can feed anywhere from 3-4 people. I like to roast it, sear it, grill (pan) it, whatever I have in the fridge-it, and it always looks fancy and well-thought out.
In fact I have a fool-proof plan for any whole pork tenderloin, which I promise to get into at a later time.
In this case, leftovers in hand and pork cooking scheme adapted, I used this recipe that I found in Epicurious.com for Tacos Pastor as a guide. I had pretty much everything on hand but the pineapple, and May 1 being a holiday in Spain, I ran down to the closest convenience store and bought a can of pineapple in syrup/almibar. This turned out to be the one thing that I just couldn't get over. It would have been so much better fresh, but at the very least I rinsed the pineapple to get the sugar water off and then chopped a couple of rounds up into small pieces and tossed them into my tiny (mini-primer blender) with two cloves of garlic, a couple of Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, some oregano, rock salt, cumin, chili powder and a few drops of some weird mixed berry antioxidant drink that I found in the fridge. I sliced the tenderloin into half-inch slices and chucked it all in a newly purchased IKEA zip lock (emphasis NOT on the lock part) bag and left it on the counter for a couple of hours.
In general, meat or fish marinates faster out of the fridge, so if you are limited on time and can't do the overnight marinate in the fridge, an hour outside is better than nothing. Of course, if however, you are planning on marinating something for several hours, it is probably better to keep it cold to prevent any kind of bacteria. It is also always better to cook any meat at room temperature, rather than cold. Take my word for it.
Anyway, marinated the pork, heated the grill pan and tortillas and then grilled the four or five remaining pineapple slices for a couple minutes each. Then, I threw the pork on, let it grill on each side (around 2-3 minutes each) and then took it off, chopped it roughly, mixed it with the grilled pineapple and scooped it onto the warm, corn tortillas. While I was waiting for the pork, I diced some tomatoes into a bowl, added a half-lime squeeze, salt, cumin, cayenne, and the leftover chopped cilantro, to later use as a salsa on top of the taco.
The pork was amazing, tender and really juicy, although not as spicy as I expected given the massive amounts of Chipotle that I added to the marinade.
In the end, the meat had an entirely different flavor than the steak the night before, but at the same time it felt really satisfying to use the leftover ingredients and create such an unique dish.