Don't you love it when you get the scoop on an off the beaten path not in the guide book type of restaurant? Last year, my friend Janis (who lived in Mexico for three years) told me about her favorite go-to, casual Mexican restaurant.
Chunga's in SLC.
Could it be the same place my teenage son had told me about a couple of years earlier? Saying they had "the best food, EVER!" Any restaurant that makes burritos the size of your head is a winner in Jake's book. My tendency is to not believe Jake when he gives his stamp of approval on any restaurant, since McDonald's often falls into that category.
I was skeptical, but Janis seemed to be a person with good taste, so I decided to go against my initial impression and give it a try.
Here's my Insta of that day.
You're going to love this make at home version. I found the recipe on Epicurious.com and made a few changes to make the process a bit more simple. We love the combination of flavors in this recipe. Perfect summer dish, no need to heat up the oven, just fire up the grill.
Speaking of summer, it's almost halfway over!
Tacos Al Pastor with Guacamole Taquero (Taco Shop Guac)
Adapted from Epicurious
1 large white onion
1 fresh ripe pineapple
marinade and meat:
1/2 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed is best
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup guajillo chile powder (or any type of chili powder will work)
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large or 2 small chipotle chiles
2 1/2-to 3-pound boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped cabbage, optional
remaining chopped onion
Guacamole Taquero (Taco shop guac- optional) for topping tacos
Early in the morning, or preferably the day before serving:
Coarsely chop 1 onion, divide into two even portions.
Place pineapple on cutting board. Slice the top off and discard. Slice about 1/2 inch off bottom of pineapple as well. Cut off the remaining peel or skin and discard, making sure to remove all bits of outer covering of pineapple. Slice in half, long way. Slice into half again. You should have four, long wedges of pineapple. Remove the core by slicing each wedge length wise down the middle. Remove all of the hard core and discard. Place one of the four wedges on cutting board and chop coarsely. Set other four wedges aside.
Place chopped onion and chopped pineapple in blender. Add orange juice and next 7 ingredients; puree marinade until smooth. Place pork in large resealable plastic bag. Add marinade and seal bag, releasing excess air. Turn to coat. Chill at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
The following day, or later in the day:
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).
Grill remaining wedges of pineapple until warm and slightly charred, 6-8 minutes per side. Remove from heat, set aside.
Grill pork with some marinade still clinging until slightly charred and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Do not over cook.
Transfer pineapple and pork to work surface; chop pineapple into 1/2-inch cubes. Chop pork. Set aside.
Chop remaining onion half and place in medium bowl. Add cilantro; toss to combine. Grill tortillas until warm and slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side.
Serve pork-pineapple mixture with onion-cilantro relish, cabbage (if desired) Guacamole Taquero, and lime wedges.
-How to make your own guajillo chile powder: finely grind about 6 large dried seeded guajillo chiles in a spice mill to yield about 1/4 cup powder.
-You may serve this dish with a variety of toppings and or salsas. I love grated cabbage on tacos, even when they aren't fish tacos. Sliced cucumbers are a perfect addition, and always served at Chunga's.
-All of the prep- marinating the meat, grilling the pineapple, chopping the onions and cilantro and preparing any sauces served with the tacos may be done ahead. On the day of serving, simply cook the meat and chop. Grill the tortillas and serve.
-Pork loin is easily overcooked. I tried two methods, grilling and cooking in the oven. I preferred the taste of cooking over the grill. A Pork Butt will also work. Since about 1/2 of the butt meat is lost in fat removal, use a 5 lb Boston or Pork Butt. Marinate overnight. Cook on low for about 6 hours, remove fat and serve. Or, cook in 275 oven for about 6 hours. Shred and remove fat.