MADE: Tacos al Pastor y Micheladas

One of my favorite Madison bloggers, Tomissa Porath, often blogs about beer. I don’t know very much about beer, but when we became friends, I just had to invite her over for micheladas because, despite her extensive beer knowledge, she had never had one. (In case you haven’t either, a michelada is a beer cocktail from Mexico.)

Once I started to think about micheladas, I decided I had to make tacos, too! And then I got so focused on tacos, I forgot to buy the beer. Oops. Thankfully, I was able to call my friend Kate who saved the day and allowed us to have a balanced meal. ; )

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Tacos al Pastor
Recipe translated and adapted from Chef Oropeza.

If you’ve ever walked into a taco place, you’ve probably seen a big spinning orange piece of meat with pineapple at the top. This contraption is called a trompo (because it resembles a spinning top), and it is used to make my very favorite kind of taco. Unfortunately, restaurants almost never have a vegetarian version (the spinning meat is pork), but making them at home is really easy and you can use any meat or protein you like, so don’t despair!

My only ingredient note is that you’ll want to go to a Mexican grocery store to make sure you can find all the ingredients you need. My favorite in Madison is Mercado Marimar, which also makes fresh corn tortillas––a must for good tacos. As for special tools, you will need a blender or food processor.

Ingredients (makes 8-12 tacos)

(for the filling)
* 4 dried ancho chiles  

* 3 dried guajillo chilies

* 75 grams (roughly 2.5 oz.) achiote paste (3/4 small bar)

* 1 or 2 garlic cloves

* 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

* 3/4 cups orange juice

* 2 tablespoons canola oil

* generous pinch of salt pizca de sal

* generous pinch of black pepper

* 16 oz. OR 24 oz. of your preferred protein (my favorite is seitan) Note: if you are using a protein like tofu or seitan, make sure to check the drained weight on the package. For example, the packages of seitan I bought listed the total weight as 1 lb. 2 oz., but the drained weight was 8 oz. Make sure to drain your tofu or seitan! Otherwise, your tacos will be watery. The more protein you use, the less saucy they will be, but as long as you marinate it for a little longer, it should still be very flavorful.

* 1 package of corn tortillas (you need at least 12 tortillas; most will have about 30). I recommend buying freshly made tortillas if you can find a tortillería in your town because the taste difference is enormous.

(taco garnishes, served in separate little bowls to pass around)
* 2 cups chopped pineapple (if canned, drain)

* 1 onion, finely chopped

* ½ bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped taza de cilantro lavado, desinfectado y picado

* 10 key limes, halved OR 5 big limes, quartered (if you and your guests don’t usually eat a lot of lime, buy less)

* 1 small can (7 oz.) of your favorite Mexican salsa(s)––not the American kind––I recommend salsa verde from Herdez or La Costeña

Instructions

1. The first thing you want to do is prepare the dried chiles. Rub their exteriors with a kitchen rag to make sure there’s no dirt on them (there usually isn’t, but nothing is worse than gritty food). Run them under cold water. Cut off their stems (a pair of scissors works well for this). Then, cut a slit up the side of each chile and remove the seeds. Did you know seeds are what make chile peppers spicy? If you like spicy tacos, you can leave some seeds. Finally, place them in a bowl of medium-hot water to soften them for about ten minutes. They should feel plump and re-hydrated.


2. Next place the chiles, achiote paste, garlic, vinegar, orange juice, oil, salt, and pepper in the blender or food processor. Blend until you have a smooth sauce. This sauce is called an adobo.

3. Chop your meat or preferred protein into small pieces, and marinate it in the adobo. If you are using a smaller quantity of meat or vegetarian protein, 10 minutes should suffice. If you are using a larger quantity, marinate it for longer (~20 minutes).

4. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan (I used a cast-iron skillet), and cook your meat or protein thoroughly. I used medium-high heat and cooked the seitan until it was slightly crispy on the outside (about 10 minutes), but I don’t know anything about cooking meat, so cook it as you usually would. It should be really hot when you are done. Cover it and set it aside while you heat the tortillas.

5. There are lots of ways to heat tortillas, so you can choose the way that seems most practical to you. I recently learned that you can lightly moisten them and put them on a baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 minutes, flipping once at the 3-minute mark. To me, this is so much easier than heating them one or two at a time on the stove. Make sure you wrap up your stack of tortillas in a kitchen towel after you’ve warmed them. Place them in a basket with a lid or another container with a lid to make sure they stay hot.

6. Bring the tortillas, meat or protein, and all the garnishes to the table. This way everyone gets to make their own tacos
. Enjoy!


Michelada

Making a michelada is super easy, and since this recipe makes one drink at a time, it’s totally customizable. Experiment with your preferred quantities of sauces and lime juice to find your perfect blend!

Ingredients

* a light or dark beer of your choice (we had Corona and Negra Modelo)

* Salsa Maggi

* Valentina hot sauce

* 1 or 2 key limes or half of a big lime

* Tajín or rock salt for the rim of your glass (I recommend Tajín)

* a frozen glass, beer mug, or mason jar

* 2 little plates (at least slightly bigger than the mouth of your glass)

Instructions

1. Take one of your plates and moisten it with a little water.

2. On the other plate sprinkle a bit of Tajín or salt.

3. Rub the rim of your glass first in the plate with water and then in the plate with Tajín or salt.

4. Squeeze the lime into your glass.

5. Add ½ tablespoon of Valentina hot sauce and ½ tablespoon of salsa Maggi.

6. Pour the beer in the glass, and enjoy!

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MADE: Tacos al Pastor y Micheladas

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