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
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
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
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!
photos by chantell and brett quernemoen