Al pastor means “of the shepherd” in Spanish, and refers to a spit-roasted funnel of stacked thinly sliced meat, to be shaved and folded up in bread. The technique was brought to Mexico by Lebanese merchants at the turn of the last century and used for lamb, and their shawarma was renamed al pastor by Mexicans. The preparation morphed over the decades, and now involves layers of roasted pork with a whole pineapple at the top of the spit, basting the meat with its dripping juices. This recipe, from chef Donnie Masterton at Tacolab by Tacolicious, in San Miguel de Allende, focuses on just the pineapple, slathered with al pastor paste and roasted. Then he chops it up and blends it with ordinary pico de gallo to create something extraordinary. Use the extra spice paste to slather on meaty mushrooms like maitake before roasting, or on pork shoulder before braising.
Make al pastor spice paste: Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stir in oregano, cumin, pepper, and cloves and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Immediately scrape into a bowl.
Wipe out pan and add another 1 tbsp. oil. Add chiles and cook, stirring, until blistered in spots, about 30 seconds. Add pineapple juice, vinegar, and achiote paste and bring to a boil (add 1-2 tbsp. water if needed to loosen paste). Stir in garlic and spices. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Transfer chile mixture to a blender, add 1 tsp. salt, and blend until smooth. Season with salt to taste.
Set aside 5 of the 8 pineapple wedges for another use if you like. Rub about 3 tbsp. pastor marinade all over remaining wedges and slide them into a resealable plastic bag. Chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a sheet pan with parchment and set pineapple wedges on top. Wipe off any excess marinate and drizzle lightly with canola oil, turning to coat. Roast pineapple until edges start to brown and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Let wedges cool, then cut into ½-in. dice.
Mix pineapple with Pico de Gallo ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with additional chile, lime juice, and salt.
* Find brick-red achiote paste, made mainly from pulverized annatto seeds, at Latino markets.
Serving Size Per 2-tbsp. serving
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.