Kitchen Bootcamp: World Cuisines

If you’ve been following my blog even just for a little while, you’ll know that we were in Mexico over the Christmas/ New Year break and that we consumed a lot of delicious food whilst we were there. One dish we did not get to was tacos al pastor – I know, I know, what is WRONG with us? – so when I saw that this month, Jen had challenged us to explore “World Cuisines” for Kitchen Bootcamp, I was determined to make something resembling this to make up for what we had missed out on.

Al pastor (literally: “Shepherd style”) is a typical Mexican dish. Derived from the shawarma, it most likely originated with Lebanese immigrants to Mexico and is similar to the döner kebab. Whilst the döner is generally lamb, “al pastor” in Mexico is made from pork, marinated (for up to 2 days) and then slow-cooked over a flame on a vertical rotisserie (like you see in the döner kebab shops). The pork is topped with pineapple and onion so that the juice from both will drip down as the pork cooks. The pineapple juice contains an enzyme which helps break down the meat protein, resulting in a wonderfully tender and flavourful meat. Served on small corn tortillas with cilantro, onions and some pineapple, it comes with the ubiquitous lime wedges and hot salsa.

Well since I don’t own a vertical grill, I hunted around online to see if I couldn’t replicate the flavours of this dish in a slow cooker (next best thing). I settled on a cross between No Recipes’ Tacos al Pastor and Canadian Living’s Mexican Pulled Pork – my recipe is inspired by both. It’s most definitely NOT authentic in the sense that it’s not prepared according to the traditional method, but the flavours were definitely there – a little sweet – and so was the tender texture you would expect from this dish.

Best of all? SO EASY? It took me about 15 minutes to prepare this and then it cooked away for 7-8 hours on low in the slow cooker. What could be better – right?

Jalapeõ, garlic and onions…Black and red spice, cumin, cinnamon…Smoked paprika, oregano and tomatoes…Pineapple, blended marinade,  pork shoulder in slow cooker…And all ready to go…

Result? Tender as can be pork with a kick (if you want, it can be as spicy as you like once you add the hot sauce.  A taste of vacation with very little prep – pretty much the ideal dish, right?

Want to join us working through the chapters of the Professional Chef? Check out the Kitchen Bootcamp page here and buy The Professional Chef on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.

** Don’t forget to check out next month’s “Forever Nigella” event – I’m hosting a street party in honour of the Royal Wedding and would love for you to join me. All the details here.

50 Responses to Kitchen Bootcamp: World Cuisines

  1. Belinda @zomppa March 30, 2011 at 09:06 #

    Al pastor is one of my favorite go-tos…gorgeous colors and thank you for the recipe!

  2. Jennifer (The Gourmetour) March 30, 2011 at 10:21 #

    I love anything mexican. The colors here are fantastic! I can’t wait to try this recipe, thank you so much for sharing! I love your site, I have it listed on my blog as one of my favorites! Thanks for all your amazing work!

  3. Mr. Neil March 30, 2011 at 10:21 #

    Hmmm…it *looks* like there is spice in there, but was definitely muted in the final product. No, I’m not just saying that as someone who does appreciate “hot spicy”: I’d still bump up the measurements above by at least 50% on the spices. They were a bit lost in terms of flavour.

    Having said that, a great dish.

    Drink of choice is a bottle (or three) of Negra Modelo, or Dos Equis as backup. As we did not have any in the house, we finished a half-bottle of off-dry white we had… Wines really don’t come to mind for me with tacos, but if you really needed to, a Spanish garnacha or French Cotes-du-Rhone would be my suggestion.

  4. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction March 30, 2011 at 11:16 #

    Oh my goodness… This looks AMAZING! I am so hungry for tacos for lunch now. I just love pulled pork tacos. Definitely going to be making these soon. Thanks for participating in this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp challenge!

  5. RavieNomNoms March 30, 2011 at 11:42 #

    FANTASTIC! Those look so outstanding! I really want to just reach into the screen and take one, I love tacos especially when it has pulled pork in it… ::drools::

  6. Kimmy @ Lighter and Local March 30, 2011 at 11:43 #

    I was looking for something like this for this weekend! After last Saturday’s cooking marathon, I could use something simple, but oh so yummy. Love your main photo, now I’m graving tacos and some guac!

  7. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom March 30, 2011 at 11:47 #

    Nothing beats cooked-all-day pork. I do love tacos but could totally see our family eating this wrapped in soft tortillas. And I would hide the leftovers in the back so I could make a taco salad the next day 🙂

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 30, 2011 at 11:52 #

      We actually ate them in both hard taco shells and soft corn tortillas – delicious both ways!

  8. RLV March 30, 2011 at 12:13 #

    Yum! I’ve been looking for a recipe like this! Thanks!

  9. Hester aka The Chef Doc March 30, 2011 at 12:29 #

    Mmm! Absolutely fabulous! Al pastor is probably one of my favoritest ways to eat pork!

  10. The Mistress of Spices March 30, 2011 at 12:59 #

    Mmmmm delicious! And what gorgeous photos…the colors just pop right out at you! Think we’ll go for tacos tonight 🙂

  11. Brian @ howtobaker March 30, 2011 at 13:01 #

    This sounds delicious…not to mention the perfect use of the new slow cooker I got for my birthday last week! Thanks for sharing the great looking recipe!

  12. Beth Michelle March 30, 2011 at 14:40 #

    This sounds so yummy! I love Mexican food. The photos are beautiful too!

  13. Kate@Diethood.com March 30, 2011 at 19:07 #

    I love love love pork tacos! I am not crazy about Mexican food, but there are some things in their cuisine, such as this, that I absolutely adore.

    Your photos are gorgeous – wish I could pick them off my screen.

  14. Nancy@acommunaltable March 30, 2011 at 19:11 #

    Woo hoo!!! Those look delicious!! These days, I am a fan of anything I can do in the slow cooker -so guess what is on the menu for next week??
    Thanks Mardi for a great recipe – your photos are gorgeous BTW!!!

  15. penny aka jeroxie March 30, 2011 at 22:50 #

    Must make pulled pork again… LOVE!

  16. Jun March 31, 2011 at 03:32 #

    Looks incredibly spicy! And I love it!

  17. Tori (@eat-tori) March 31, 2011 at 11:14 #

    How fantastic! We had some pulled pork the other night after our tamale fest- but it wasn’t nearly as good looking as this. Next time, this is going on the table….

  18. Sarah, Maison Cupcake March 31, 2011 at 15:40 #

    This looks fantastic… you don’t hear so much about pulled pork in the UK but I’ve read a couple of recipes on US and Canadian blogs using slow cookers to do this and I really want to try it. Love the sound of Kitchen Bootcamp too, off to check that out!

  19. MikeVFMK March 31, 2011 at 20:12 #

    Love this post, Mardi! These tacos have me salivating and I love the use of pork shoulder, my favourite!!

  20. Tiny Urban Kitchen March 31, 2011 at 23:35 #

    Mardi, this looks absolutely fantastic! I always like ordering Al Pastor whenever I go to our local Mexican dive. It never occurred to me to make it at home, though I love the idea that the prep is so short.

    And Bryan loves Mexican as well . .

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 4, 2011 at 20:18 #

      It’s definitely not as authentic as some recipes but it’s a close replica of the flavours we enjoyed in Mexico. And anything made in the slow cooker is a winner in my book!

  21. The Harried Cook April 1, 2011 at 02:01 #

    Oh thank you so much for this recipe! Pork is my favorite meat and Mexican is my favorite cuisine! I am going to make this for sure!

    Congrats on Top 9! 🙂

  22. linda polak April 1, 2011 at 11:54 #


    I’m trying this one for sure. Is the Penzy’s spice hard to find?

  23. Kim- Liv Life April 1, 2011 at 12:13 #

    This recipe has my husband’s name all over it!!! Nicely done!!

  24. Pretty. Good. Food. April 2, 2011 at 12:09 #

    Yum! Sounds delicious!! 🙂

  25. Jason Phelps April 4, 2011 at 20:29 #

    This was the wrong thing to look at right about now. Now it is all I can think about!!!


  26. Beth April 7, 2011 at 14:56 #

    Looks delicious and easy. Wow!


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