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Easy Pollo al Pastor with Charred Tomato Salsa

Cumin Powder -

Easy Pollo al Pastor with Charred Tomato Salsa

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Note: All ingredients in blue is available at



 Ingredients Quantity
ALCO Cumin Powder 1 tsp
ALCO Turmeric Powder 1 tsp
Black pepper 1 tbsp.
Mexican oregano (dried ) 1 tbsp.
Kosher salt (divided) 1 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Garlic cloves 4
Whole chicken 3 1/2- to 4-pound
Cooking spray As needed


Pickled Onions

 Ingredients Quantity
Red onion (thinly sliced) 2 cups
Hot water 1 cup
Apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup
Cold water 1/2 cup
Granulated sugar 1 tsp
Kosher salt 1 tsp

Charred Tomato Salsa

 Ingredients Quantity
Plum tomatoes (cored) 3 medium
White onion  1 small
Garlic (unpeeled) 2 cloves
Jalapeño (stem removed) 1 medium
Cilantro (finely chopped) 1 tbsp.
Kosher salt 1/2 tsp
Corn tortillas (warmed) As needed


Make the chicken

  1. Combine orange juice, lime juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, oregano, black pepper, ALCO Cumin Powder, ALCO Turmeric Powder and garlic in a blender, and process on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  2. Place chicken in a gallon-size zip lock plastic bag, and pour marinade over chicken. Seal and refrigerate, turning occasionally, 8 to 12 hours.

Make the pickled onions

  1. Combine red onion slices and 1 cup hot water in a medium bowl; stir 30 seconds. Drain and rinse onions in a strainer with cold running water. Return onions to bowl, and stir in vinegar, 1/2 cup cold water, sugar, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  2. Heat one chimney of charcoal until flames subside and coals are lightly covered in ash. Arrange coals for two-zone cooking: Bank coals along half of bottom grate of charcoal grill. Add oak or mesquite log along edge of coals. Place oiled cooking grate over coals; open bottom and top vents of grill. Place 2 stacks of 3 bricks on grill grate straddling the coals. (Stack bricks so that top brick is 8 to 10 inches above grill grate.) 
  3. Spray grill basket with cooking spray. Remove chicken from marinade, and discard marinade. Place chicken, cavity side up, in grill basket. Lock basket, and place edges of basket on top of bricks, chicken cavity side down. Grill, flipping basket every 5 minutes, for 30 minutes. Coals will begin to shrink, and chicken will begin to brown.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove 1 brick from each stack, and place basket back on bricks. Grill, flipping basket every 5 minutes to expose both the skin side and cavity side to the coals, until chicken is deep brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, 50 to 55 minutes.
  5. Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a rimmed baking sheet, and let rest 10 minutes.

Make the charred tomato salsa

  1. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chili on oiled grill grate directly over coals. Grill, turning occasionally, until charred and just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard charred peels from garlic cloves and outer layer from onion. Transfer charred onion, garlic, and chile to a blender; pulse until finely chopped, about 10 pulses.
  2. Add tomatoes, cilantro, and salt, and pulse until mixture is chunky in texture, 3 to 5 pulses. 
  3. Carve chicken, or pull meat off the bone, and coarsely chop meat and skin on a cutting board, reserving any juices on rimmed baking sheet. Transfer chicken to a serving bowl; pour reserved juices over chicken.
  4. Drizzle with additional orange juice, and season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve with warm tortillas, pickled onions, and charred tomato salsa.  

- Recipe Juan Pablo Loza