This is the combination of classic taco salad “in the delicious, deep-fried tortilla bowl” and my favorite taco filling. Al pastor is smoky pork with pineapple, and it brings so much flavor to this salad. It gets covered in ranch because we’re in the Midwest and that’s how we stay warm in winter. Traditionally, al pastor is cooked on a spit, but this is an at-home version that mimics the flavors and crispy, juicy texture.
a deep-fry thermometer; a 7-inch spider; a 5-inch spider; a high-speed blender; a pressure cooker
For the tortilla bowls: Heat the oil in a large, heavy, deep pot to 350 degrees F.
Gently press a tortilla into the center of 7-inch spider to form a bowl. Using a 5-inch spider, gently press down into the tortilla to hold its shape. Carefully submerge the spiders into the hot oil and fry the tortilla until puffed, crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove and gently place upside down on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to drain of excess oil. Season with salt. Repeat with the remaining 3 tortillas.
To make the spicy salsa verde ranch: Mix together the ranch dressing and salsa verde in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble the salad: In a large mixing bowl, add the shredded lettuce, cilantro and about 1/3 cup of the salad dressing, adding more if desired. Divide the salad among the 4 tortilla bowls. Top each with 1/2 cup Al Pastor, radishes, Pickled Red Onions and 2 tablespoons queso fresco. Drizzle some dressing on top. Serve immediately.
Homemade Salsa Verde:
Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the tomatillos, onion, poblano, garlic and jalapeño. Cook, flipping the veggies as needed to evenly char and soften, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Carefully remove the stem from the poblano chile, so as to not let the juices spill out (we want that yummy pepper juice!) and add to the carafe of a high-speed blender. Squeeze the garlic from the skins into the blender. Add the remaining roasted veggies and any juices from the bottom of the pan. Add the cilantro, lime juice, green onion and salt. Blend on high speed until pureed and smooth.
Yield:About 5 cups
In a large bowl, add the achiote paste, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, cloves, black pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to fully combine into a paste. Add the pork and rub the paste all over to completely coat. Set aside.
In the bowl of a pressure cooker, mix together the crushed pineapple, chicken broth, garlic, bay leaves, chile, onion, oregano and sage. Add the achiote-rubbed pork. Pressure cook on low for 4 hours or high for 1 hour until the pork is fork-tender. Carefully release the steam away from your face. Remove the pork to a plate or baking sheet and shred using 2 forks.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and spoon some of the braising liquid over to moisten, as needed. Season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Set aside.
Pickled Red Onions:
Place the onions in a food storage container and set aside while you prepare the pickling liquid.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the vinegar, granulated sugar, salt, cumin seeds, bay leaf and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar and salt are dissolved, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Pour the cooled pickling liquid over the onions and allow to pickle for at least 30 minutes. At this point, you can either strain the onions to prevent from further pickling and use immediately, or put the lid on top and store in the refrigerator to further pickle until ready to use.
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Tools You May Need
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