Al Pastor Taco Pizza

I first met a taco pizza when I visited Dubuque, Iowa for the first time, seven years ago! I was seriously into the concept of taco toppings on a pizza crust and got totally jazzed when I moved to Grand Forks the following year and discovered that taco pizza is everywhere here too. Even though I didn’t grow up with it, it made me nostalgic for the kind of tacos that my mom would make when I was little, from the boxed kits- ground meat mixed with a packet of seasonings, shredded orange cheddar, and shredded iceberg lettuce. Super basic. Common taco pizza is essentially that on a pizza crust, plus olives, crushed tortilla chips, and side ramekins of sour cream and salsa. It’s tasty, but a lot of its tastiness for me comes from the nostalgia factor, not necessarily from the fact that it’s an exceptionally good taco situation.

Eggboy and I have had too many extremely good taco situations in LA and Chicago to let this go unnoticed. Our joint dream taco is al pastor, complete with pineapple, cilantro, onion, lots of lime, and tomatillo salsa. (His fave is from Los 3 Ponchos, in Chicago. He once ditched me at a Purim party nearby there to go eat three of their tacos. This was after we’d had dinner there before the party. Where does he find the stomach space for all of this food??) So when his birthday last year fell on pizza Friday, I got to work combining the magic of a great al pastor with the perfection that is Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough. I quickly learned that when you have two perfect things like that, you don’t need much else. I held it all together with melty oaxaca cheese and salty fresh queso fresco, and we just about lost our eyeballs in the back of our heads, it was so good. All of the perfect smoky/sweet/salty flavors of al pastor were there and the doughy pizza crust with the melty cheese took it to a crazy level. The cheeses here don’t overpower, they just bind everything together in meltiness and allow the al pastor to shine. The grilled pineapple makes an entirely new case for pineapple on pizza, and the cilantro and onions sprinkled on at the end add freshness, crunch, and prettiness! I’m obsessed with this pizza. Eggboy is too. It’s 10000% worth the two-day process it takes to make—day one: mix the dough, marinate the meat. Day two: grill the meat and assemble. So as part of my meal prep back in March, I made one and stuck it in the freezer for Eggboy’s first Father’s Day!!!! 

Happy Almost Father’s Day to the best taco eater and Bernie dad in the world! 


Al Pastor Taco Pizza

Makes 2 14” Pizzas

Ingredients:

Al Pastor:

1 (14oz) can pineapple rings, juice and rings separated

1/4 c distilled white vinegar

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 guajillo chiles, dried, seeds tapped out

1 lb pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces

Assembly:

All-purpose flour, for dusting

About 2 pounds pizza dough (I recommend Jim Lahey’s no-knead dough)

1/2 c tomatillo salsa, plus more for topping and serving

10 oz queso fresco, crumbled

10 oz oaxaca cheese, torn into small pieces

Chopped fresh cilantro

Chopped yellow onion or pink pickled onions

Lime wedges

Clues

To make the al pastor, in a food processor, combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt, cumin, black pepper, cloves, and chiles and blend until smooth. Place the pork shoulder in a bowl and pour in the mixture from the food processor. Fold to combine, cover, and let marinate for 4 hours or overnight. (If letting this sit overnight, this is a good time to start your pizza dough.)

Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Use tongs to lift the pork out of the marinade and grill in batches until browned and cooked through. Also grill 8 of the pineapple rings until charred. Transfer the pork and pineapple to a cutting board and chop the pineapple into bite sized pieces.

Preheat the oven to 500ºf with a pizza stone if you have one. On a floured surface, divide the pizza dough in half and roll each into a 14” round, dusting with flour as needed. Transfer to a baking sheet or parchment paper (which will make getting it on and off a pizza peel much easier). Top each pizza with 1/4 cup tomatillo salsa, about 5 oz queso fresco (reserving a little bit for topping after baking), 5 oz oaxaca cheese, and 1/2 of the al pastor and pineapple. Bake for about 9-12 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese has brown splotchy marks. Top with a splatter of salsa, cilantro, onions, lime, and reserved queso fresco. Slice and enjoy!


cumin chickpea salad tacos with chipotle tahini

hello from chicago! i have been floating in a sea of family and friends, some of whom i haven’t seen since my limited too body glitter days, some of whom i didn’t recognize until they mentioned my elementary school. most of whom have more facial hair (if they’re dudes)… it’s so bonkers to see all of these old homeslices and sign their books! it really makes me want to smile my whole face off and hug the guts out of them. i hope i didn’t spread any cooties though, i’ve been chugging mum’s matzoh ball soup and just had my first wheatgrass shot (ew), so i think i’m on my way to being 100%. i’ve also been getting better at coming down off of the wired feeling that’s leftover after each book event. bojack helps (should i start a bojack blog?), and so does this great book that i’m reading, searching for john hughes. it’s a new memoir by jason diamond, who grew up right near me in the chicago suburbs, and reading it is like receiving letters from a good old friend that i’ve known for a million years. i love it and 10/10 would recommend.

speaking of the suburbs, i am heading deeper into the suburbs today, to lake forest for my second of three chicago book tour events. and tonight i’m going downtown to the cso! i can’t hardly wait.

Since it is Tuesday, we should think about tacos. This recipe has become a staple supper in our house. It began its life as a greek salad that I tested for Lily’s forthcoming book, Kale and Caramel, and Eggboy and I became so obsessed with it that we started having it literally every third day. Lily Salad! Lily Salad! Over the past few months, it’s evolved to fit our taco obsessed lifestyle and adapted to accommodate the ingredients that we commonly have on hand. Olives were swapped out for radishes, pita croutons were swapped out for the amazeballs tortillas from this small factory in moorhead, minnesota, and a load of mint was swapped out for whatever sad small amounts of mint we can get our hungry hands on. (At one time over the summer, mint was plentiful from my little plant. But when all of that died and it just couldn’t be found at any of our groceries, I got sad. And around this time I broke into Lily’s apartment in los angeles while she was on a date, and when she returned she had a bush of fresh mint the size of two of my heads. oh wow! is there a farmers’ market today?? i asked, pointing to her mint. no, this is literally the smallest quantity of mint that i can get from [insert generic grocery store name here]. *eye roll* *california* *ugh*.) I also started adding tabasco sauce because I feel weird not having tacos with classic tabasco sauce, and I thought that chipotle tahini would be a fun twist on chipotle mayo, giving it a nice creamy texture and some smokiness that brings these cumin chickpeas to the next level. 


cumin chickpea salad tacos with chipotle tahini

makes about 8

ingredients

Olive oil or flavorless oil
1 15-oz carton chickpeas (drained, rinsed, and patted dry)
ground cumin
ground coriander
Salt and pepper
original Tabasco sauce

5 oz mixed greens
1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large cucumber, chopped
4 radishes, thinly silced
A handful of fresh mint leaves, or more if you've got it
A handful of crumbled feta

1/4 c tahini
3 tb cold water
1 tb lemon juice
1 tsp chipotle tabasco, or more to taste

about 8 six-inch flour tortillas

clues

heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. add the chickpeas and cover them with a dusting of cumin and coriander, a big pinch of salt, and a few turns of pepper. cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. remove from heat and top with a few shakes of hot sauce. 

in a large bowl, combine the mixed greens, onion, cucumber, radishes, mint, and feta. 

in a small bowl, mix together the tahini, water, lemon juice, chipotle tabasco, salt, and pepper and stir until thickened. taste and add additional tabasco, if desired. 

warm the tortillas in the pan you used to cook the tortillas in (so the seasoning gets on one side), and then fill them with a pile of salad, a spoonful of chickpeas, and a healthy drizzle of chipotle tahini. alternatively, you can toss the chickpeas and the tahini sauce with the salad before stuffing everything into a taco.

enjoy! 

 


-yeh!

thank you, tabasco, for sponsoring this post! check out the #tabascotastemakers hashtag for more tabasco recipes!

brisket tacos + an end of harvest party

this year's end of harvest party was extra special. it was eggboy's first one as a man in charge, alongside eggdad, and it was our first gathering in the space where our wedding reception will be! the space is typically used for tractors and tools and welding, but we cleared it out, put up string lights all hipster-like, and set out the baddest taco bar in the history of midwestern taco bars. 

eggboy contributed about 12 kinds of salsa and i spearheaded some brisket, even though i was nervous about cooking for a bunch of big burly hunter men. because, i mean, preparing meat does not come as naturally to me as, say, baking a cupcake. i did not grow up eating red meat and when i was little i did not even really like any meat unless it was (turkey) baloney or (turkey) salami. so tell me to host a high tea or afternoon cake club and i will do it in a jiffy, but inform me of a dinner that i need to cook for 16 people that probably kill a majority of the meat that they eat and i will be a nervous nelly. very nervous nelly.

so i hyperventilated a bit and stressed out but in the end i chose brisket for the centerpiece of our tacos because in the past few years, brisket has wiggled its way into my life by way of the jewish holidays and i invited it to stay a while because of its earth-shattering smells and perfect next-day sandwiches. brisket might actually be my comfort meat, my entryway into the world of non-lunchmeat meat. each time i make it, it gets easier and i think why don't i make this more often? maybe when i'm a real married minnesota lady, one of those who has a slow cooker, i'll make brisket on the reg and you can all come over for brisket tacos every other tuesday.

here was our menu:

for noshing // chips, a butt load of guac, and every single kind of salsa that eggboy could get his hands on

for the taco bar // zinfandel braised brisket (recipe here), a light cabbage slaw, and all the fixins you could ever want

on the side // roasted sweet potatoes

for sipping // kendall-jackson vintner's reserve zinfandel

for dessert // eggsister's coconut cream pie!


happy taco-ing everyone!

-yeh!

thanks so much to kendall-jackson for sponsoring this post!!!! all opinions are my own!

ojai magic

the end of my ojai stay brought three of the best surprises in the whole wide world of surprises: an eggboy, a ring, and a new status as the future mrs. egg

i want to smile all of the smiles and cry all of the tears. these past three days have brought shock, excitement, and then the feeling that i should not eat that burrito so i can begin my wedding diet right now. (ahhhhh!!!!!!)

eggboy's magical stay included midnight tacos, afternoon tacos, bacon truffles, our first guest list draft, the choral fantasy, a visit to our new favorite bookstore, and heavy usage of the words fiancé and future husband. his visit was short and sweet and the most perfect engagement i could have never imagined. i feel so mushy right now! eggboy is the cheese to my macaroni and i just can't contain my excitement that we are going to get old and wrinkly together. 

yesterday was spent on a bus to berkeley, making the pinterest board and googling "rustic winter wedding" and staring down at my pink and gold ring. i was sad to say goodbye to ojai though. not only do i now have this connection to it since we got engaged there, but it was also the prettiest little town with the sweetest people ever. the concerts were beautiful, the tacos were just right, and my host family was the best.

and now it's time to explore the bay area!!! chez panisse? i think that's a good way to celebrate.

-yeh!