How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Held on May 5 in honor of the Mexican Army defeating the French at the Battle of Puebla, this holiday is observed to some degree on both sides of the border. Some consider it an occasion to go out for tacos and margaritas, while others direct the festivities homeward with their favorite Mexican recipes.
Al pastor’s mix of sweetness and spice pairs perfectly with a tropical coconut mojito
If you’re looking for Cinco de Mayo recipes involving chicken, consider our interpretation of this staple:
What is Al Pastor?
The multifaceted flavors you taste whenever you have al pastor start with the marinade, which uses a blend of citrus and peppers. Although many opt to bake the recipe, your smoker or grill takes it up a notch, no matter if you intend to serve it with rice or set up a taco bar with a variety of toppings.
Grilling or smoking, in fact, provides a more traditional method for making this now-popular Cinco de Mayo recipe: Cooked similar to shawarma, the meat — pork or chicken — rotates on a spit over a pit, allowing it to develop a charred exterior. The presentation and flavors can trace their origins to the arrival of Lebanese immigrants in Mexico during the 19th century.
With its citrus-based marinade, the meat develops a caramelized, crispy skin, resulting in a flavor that’s versatile yet incredibly distinctive. For this recipe, we’re recommending chicken thighs, due to the amount of moistness they deliver compared to breasts and bring out all the familiar notes through a mix of tangy pineapple, the kick of chipotles in adobo sauce, garlic, onion, and vinegar. Here’s how you can get started:
Easy Cinco de Mayo Dinner Recipe: Al Pastor Chicken Thighs
Time to Prepare: 1 hour – 24 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serving: 4-5 People
Al Pastor Sauce
- 8 dried guajillo peppers or dried red pepper of choice
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 small can of chipotle chiles in adobo
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoon salt
Al Pastor Chicken
- 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 batch al pastor sauce
- 1-2 cups roughly chopped fresh pineapple
- 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
- Cilantro, to serve
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Warmed tortillas, to serve
Recommended tools for the job
- Flame Boss WiFi Thermometer
- Sharp boning or trimming knife
- Quality lump charcoal (Jealous Devil)
- Aluminum half pan
- Cutting board
Al Pastor Sauce
- Bring a small pot of water up to a boil over high heat, and remove from the heat.
- Put the guajillo peppers in the water, making sure that they’re fully submerged. Let them soak for 10-15 minutes, or until very soft.
- Remove the peppers from the water, pull off the stems, open, and deseed.
- Place the peppers, garlic, adobo, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt into a blender, and blend until smooth. Use to marinate chicken.
Al Pastor Chicken
- Prep the smoker or grill to 400°F using a Flame Boss WiFi Thermometer.
- Smoke or grill the chicken in an aluminum half pan with half of the pineapples for 45 minutes until cooked through (160°F).
- Set the smoker or grill to 425°F, and crisp up for 2-3 minutes, checking often.
- Top the chicken with remaining pineapples, thinly sliced onions, and cilantro.
- Serve as is, with lime, or shred and serve with warmed tortillas.
Easy Tropical Cocktail: Coconut Mojitos
- 5 mint leaves, more if you want to garnish your cup
- 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 3 ounces of Malibu coconut rum
- Club soda or Sprite to top
- Place five or more mint leaves at the bottom of your mojito glass, then add one tablespoon of sugar.
- Stirr with a spoon for approximately two minutes. This gentler way of “muddling” your leaves will avoid making your drink too bitter.
- Add the juice from 1/2 of a lime and stir until the sugar dissolves, creating a light syrup.
- Add your coconut rum, ice, and top off with your choice of club soda or sprite depending on your preferred sweetness.
You can also use this recipe for sliced pork butt if you prefer.
While Cinco De Mayo is a Mexican holiday, Mojitos actually originated in Cuba.