Tacos al Pastor

Alex Stupak

Empellón Cocina, Empellón Taqueria, and Empellón Al Pastor, NYC

According to Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman, short of investing in a vertical broiler, this hack is the closest you’ll get to al pastor tacos at home. We tend to think of pork shoulder as something that needs to be braised, but a well-butchered shoulder steak given a swift ride on a ripping hot grill can be a thing of beauty—the wide surface area means more of that good Maillard char you want from al pastor. Take your time when slicing the finished meat: thin, bias-cut slivers are the ideal texture here.


  • Vegetable oil for the grill
  • 1 cup adobo
  • Four 1⁄2-inch-thick boneless pork shoulder steaks (2 pounds total)
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • 12 corn or flour tortillas 
  • 1⁄4 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 24 even slices
  • 1⁄2 medium white onion, minced
  • 60 cilantro leaves (from about 15 sprigs), roughly chopped
  • 2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges
  • Salsa roja for serving
  • Raw salsa verde for serving


Make the filling: preheat a grill to the hottest possible setting and brush it with vegetable oil. Slather about 1 cup of the adobo all over the pork steaks and season liberally with salt. Place the pork steaks on the hot grill and cook for 3 minutes. Rotate the steaks 45 degrees and cook them for another 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook the steaks for 3 minutes. The finished steaks should have visible charred grill marks. Remove the steaks from the grill, transfer them to a plate, and set aside to rest in a warm place.

While the pork is resting, make one batch of tortillas and hold them warm.

Cut the pork steaks against the grain and on the bias—you want the slices to be as thin as possible, almost shaved, to achieve the right tenderness and texture for al pastor.

Assemble the tacos: lay out the warm tortillas on serving plates. Evenly distribute the grilled pork and the pineapple slices among the tortillas. Top with some of the salsa roja and raw salsa verde, along with the minced onion and chopped cilantro. Squeeze a couple of the lime wedges over the tacos and serve the rest on the side.

Recipe reprinted from Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman. Copyright ©2015 by Empellon Holdings LLC. Photos by Evan Sung. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


12 tacos