Chicken al pastor
Chicken al pastor is a tasty dish made with tender chicken and pineapple. Toasty, spicy and sweet this recipe features skewered chicken and pineapple served on top of a base of corn tortillas. Easy and delicious, read on for an authentic chicken al pastor recipe that’s sure to transport your taste buds to the energetic streets of Mexico.
Heat a pan over a medium to high heat. Add the dried chillies and cook until toasted, for around 3-5 minutes. Add the water to cover the chillies and bring to a simmer. Cover then cook until softened for a further 5 minutes and drain.
Add the chillies, achiote paste, garlic, chipotle peppers, onion, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, ground cumin, brown sugar and salt to a food processor. Blend until smooth and then place ½ of the marinade in the fridge. Pour the remainder of the sauce into a bowl and then add the chicken, ensuring it’s evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for a min. 8 hours.
Place wooden skewers in a shallow dish and cover with water. Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C and line a separate baking dish with foil. Thread 1 pineapple slice onto the skewers. Then thread 4 to 5 pieces of the chicken, and then another pineapple slice. Repeat until the skewers are full.
Plae the skewers onto the dish with the foil, resting the ends on the edge of the pan to keep the chicken away from the bottom. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, then turn the skewers and brush with the reserved marinade from the fridge. Bake for a further 30 minutes and once the chicken is no longer pink, increase the oven temperature for 3-5 minutes to brown the meat. Remove from the oven.
Whilst the chicken is in the oven, heat a frying pan over a high heat. Add the tortillas, 2 at a time or as many as fit comfortably in the pan. Cook, turning once, allowing for 1-2 minutes on each side.
Remove the chicken from the skewers, whilst taking care. Place onto a chopping board and chop into bite size pieces. Then divide the chicken and pineapple between the toasted tortillas to serve. Garnish with coriander.
Tips & tricks (the marinade)
The ideal way to start this recipe is with the freshest ingredients you can find. The fresher the better and the more taste you’ll unearth through your al pastor marinade for chicken. Dark meat, such as chicken thighs, will also stay juicier than chicken breasts. But it is still possible to make the recipe with white meat, you will just need to consider the overall cooking time if changing the cuts of meat. For more advice on the different cuts of chicken that can be used for the dish, have a read of our article here all about chicken cuts and how to cook them.
How to serve it
Best served warm, the authentic chicken al pastor recipe calls for toasted tortillas as in our recipe above. Literally translating to ‘shepherd style’ this dish is designed to be casually enjoyed. Try enhancing the chicken al pastor seasoning when serving and add an extra twist of black pepper and salt to suit your taste buds. Some variations of the dish call for a wedge of lime to be served alongside it too. You can also vary the dish by serving with tacos to add a crunchy flavour texture. Take a look at our tacos al pastor recipe here for more Mexican cuisine inspiration.
Chicken al pastor can be safely stored in a fridge for up to three days. As with all chicken-based dishes, if you do reheat it, ensure you check the chicken has reached the sufficient temperature in the reheating process.
Chicken al pastor is a comforting, easy and delicious dish to master. It has its roots in the Mexican-Lebanese communities and is said to be an early take on a shawarma, a classic Lebanese dish introduced to Mexico around the early 20th Century. From these humble beginnings as Mexican street food, the chicken al pastor dish has continued to inspire new recipes, and is perhaps an early example of fusion cuisine.