Adrian Davila is the third-generation pitmaster at Davila’s BBQ in Seguin. His grandfather got into the barbecue business in the 1950s, and his family has been in Texas for longer than it’s been a state. In recent years, Davila has added a food truck to the business —“my food lab,” he calls it — where he can experiment with flavors beyond the Mexican-American sausages, briskets, rubs and sauces that are always on the menu at the old-school restaurant in the town northeast of San Antonio, which has been serving hundreds of customers a day for decades.
Some of those new recipes made it into his cookbook “Cowboy Barbecue: Fire & Smoke from the Original Texas Vaqueros” (Countryman Press, $24.95), which came out last month, but so did plenty of the traditional dishes, including his tacos al pastor. It’s a perfect dish for feeding a family or a crowd this summer, especially if you like to cook over live fire.
Tacos al Pastor (Pineapple and Pork)
Al pastor (“the shepherd”) is one of the most recognized street tacos in the Americas. The recipe has its roots in trompo, which is the meat you see being sliced from a rotating vertical skewer. Lebanese immigrants brought the shawarma-style to Mexico, and in Greece you will find a similar recipe in a gyro. Both traditionally use lamb meat, hence the name, but in Mexico and South America al pastor is made with juicy pork.
— Adrian Davila
1 pineapple, 1/2 cored and diced, 1/2 sliced into rounds 3/4-inch thick
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow onion, 1/2 roughly chopped, 1/2 sliced into rounds 3/4-inch thick
1 cup fresh Mexican or Valencia orange juice (about 3 to 4 oranges)
3 guajillo chilies
2 ancho chilies
1 chipotle chili
3 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1 (5-pound) pork shoulder, cut into steak-size (5-by-3-inch) pieces, 3/4-inch thick
40 mini (3-inch) fresh corn tortillas
Chopped fresh cilantro, lemon wedges, sliced jalapeño pepper and salsa of your choice, for serving
Combine the diced pineapple, tomatoes, chopped onion, orange juice, all the chilies, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Arrange the pork in a large, nonreactive dish or casserole. Pour the pineapple mixture over the meat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
Thirty minutes before cooking, prepare a direct-heat fire in your grill at medium heat. Be sure the grill is clean so that the meat does not stick.
Remove the meat from the refrigerator, and grill the pork, the pineapple slices and the sliced onion until the meat is browned on the outside and firm (the color is hard to judge because of the marinade). Turn the meat, pineapple and onion every few minutes. The pineapple is done when the rounds have char lines but not so cooked that they fold over on themselves when flipped. The onion will have grill marks and start to become translucent. This will take a different amount of time for each ingredients, depending on the heat and placement on the grill, but about 12 to 15 minutes.
Chop the pork, onion and pineapple together, all at once (preferably with a cleaver) to fuse the flavors.
Serve the meat mixture in doubled-up, warmed tortillas garnished with chopped cilantro, lemon wedges, jalapeño slices and salsa. Serves 8 to 10.
— From “Cowboy Barbecue: Fire & Smoke from the Original Texas Vaqueros” by Adrian Davila (Countryman Press, $24.95)