Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

 

Al Pastor’s Untapped Menu Potential

Whether a seasoning, sauce or cocktail rim, al pastor imbues bold flavor across cuisines

Al Pastor’s Untapped Menu Potential

Whether a seasoning, sauce or cocktail rim, al pastor imbues bold flavor across cuisines

By Rob Corliss
December 5, 2023

By Rob Corliss
December 5, 2023

 

Explore the full potential of al pastor with these six inventive strategies that harness its craveable flavor combinations. From crafting an al pastor–inspired seasoning blend to exploring global mash-ups with signature ingredients like Korean barbecue, kimchi or banh mi, these techniques push culinary boundaries and provide new pathways of innovation.

Photo Credit: Katie Kelley

This Al Pastor Margarita, developed by The Spirits in Motion beverage consultancy at Flavor Experience, features pork fat-washed tequila, mezcal, caramelized onion-agave, pineapple juice and Natural Brands lime juice. It’s finished with achiote spice, grilled pineapple, pickled onion and cilantro.

THE SEASONING

Create an al pastor–inspired seasoning blend using achiote, chipotle, guajillo, garlic and onion powders, cumin, black pepper, Mexican oregano, dried orange peel and sea salt. Tap this flavor system for a menu-wide go-to seasoning:

  1. Global mash-ups: Combine an al pastor seasoning blend with other distinctive global signature ingredients and dishes, such as Korean barbecue, kimchi, savory Greek yogurt dips, banh mi, black tahini, mapo tofu, poke, jerk or falafel.
  2. Side dishes: An al pastor kick can offer bold flavor to baked beans, fried rice, risotto, grains, potatoes, vegetables, slaws and pickled vegetables/fruits.
  3. Savory cocktails: Elevate the sipping experience by rimming a glass with al pastor seasoning (or an al pastor-chicharrón blend), dipping the edge of a fruit or vegetable garnish in the seasoning, topping drinks with a flavored foam or using the seasoning to infuse a vegetable juice or simple syrup.

SAUCE

Further enhanced by orange juice, pineapple purée, brown sugar and cider vinegar, the elements of al pastor can produce a rich sauce with spicy, sweet, savory and smoky flavors.

  1. Basting: Apply an al pastor glaze on chargrilled and roasted chicken wings, meats, seafood, vegetables, whole/sliced fruits, paneer or halloumi.
  2. Nontraditional entrée flavoring: Impart unique al pastor flavoring into seafood dishes, burritos, meatballs, tortellini fillings, meat pies (arepas, empanadas, pupusas), osso buco or lamb shank and ramen.
  3. Updating classic sauces: Tantalize tastes with al pastor twists on pizza sauce, Bolognese, orange chicken sauce, chutneys, regional barbecue sauce, cranberry sauce, Southern gravies and peanut satay.

 

One Chef’s Take on Al Pastor

“I’ve been on a major al pastor kick lately. We have so many incredible taco stands in Los Angeles, and the al pastor flavors—with subtle clove and cinnamon notes mixing with chiles, garlic and pineapple—are awesome! I can easily see making a wing sauce that uses those flavors and maybe charred pineapple and green onions mixed in.”
—Adam Gertler, Würstmacher & Culinary Director, Absolute Brands, Pasadena, Calif.

 

Explore the full potential of al pastor with these six inventive strategies that harness its craveable flavor combinations. From crafting an al pastor–inspired seasoning blend to exploring global mash-ups with signature ingredients like Korean barbecue, kimchi or banh mi, these techniques push culinary boundaries and provide new pathways of innovation.

Photo Credit: Katie Kelley

This Al Pastor Margarita, developed by The Spirits in Motion beverage consultancy at Flavor Experience, features pork fat-washed tequila, mezcal, caramelized onion-agave, pineapple juice and Natural Brands lime juice. It’s finished with achiote spice, grilled pineapple, pickled onion and cilantro.

THE SEASONING

Create an al pastor–inspired seasoning blend using achiote, chipotle, guajillo, garlic and onion powders, cumin, black pepper, Mexican oregano, dried orange peel and sea salt. Tap this flavor system for a menu-wide go-to seasoning:

  1. Global mash-ups: Combine an al pastor seasoning blend with other distinctive global signature ingredients and dishes, such as Korean barbecue, kimchi, savory Greek yogurt dips, banh mi, black tahini, mapo tofu, poke, jerk or falafel.
  2. Side dishes: An al pastor kick can offer bold flavor to baked beans, fried rice, risotto, grains, potatoes, vegetables, slaws and pickled vegetables/fruits.
  3. Savory cocktails: Elevate the sipping experience by rimming a glass with al pastor seasoning (or an al pastor-chicharrón blend), dipping the edge of a fruit or vegetable garnish in the seasoning, topping drinks with a flavored foam or using the seasoning to infuse a vegetable juice or simple syrup.

SAUCE

Further enhanced by orange juice, pineapple purée, brown sugar and cider vinegar, the elements of al pastor can produce a rich sauce with spicy, sweet, savory and smoky flavors.

  1. Basting: Apply an al pastor glaze on chargrilled and roasted chicken wings, meats, seafood, vegetables, whole/sliced fruits, paneer or halloumi.
  2. Nontraditional entrée flavoring: Impart unique al pastor flavoring into seafood dishes, burritos, meatballs, tortellini fillings, meat pies (arepas, empanadas, pupusas), osso buco or lamb shank and ramen.
  3. Updating classic sauces: Tantalize tastes with al pastor twists on pizza sauce, Bolognese, orange chicken sauce, chutneys, regional barbecue sauce, cranberry sauce, Southern gravies and peanut satay.

 

One Chef’s Take on Al Pastor

“I’ve been on a major al pastor kick lately. We have so many incredible taco stands in Los Angeles, and the al pastor flavors—with subtle clove and cinnamon notes mixing with chiles, garlic and pineapple—are awesome! I can easily see making a wing sauce that uses those flavors and maybe charred pineapple and green onions mixed in.”
—Adam Gertler, Würstmacher & Culinary Director, Absolute Brands, Pasadena, Calif.

About the Author

mmROB CORLISS is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.

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About The Author

Rob Corliss

ROB CORLISS is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.