As I wrote yesterday, I’ve been delighted to start a small tradition of making Mexican food each Friday night. Lately I have been so inspired by Pati’s Mexican Table and basically want to cook every one of her recipes. My husband gave me this cookbook along with a tortilla press for Christmas, and let’s just say it is the type of present that results in everyone winning!
Last Friday I decided to attempt Pati’s shredded pork in ancho-orange sauce, and I was not disappointed. Luckily I had bought some dried ancho chiles on our most recent trip to Mexigo. As a side note, if you are in Brussels and seeking more Mexican ingredients than can be found in the sad international aisle of your average Carrefour, I highly recommend Mexigo in Ixelles. It’s a hole in the wall, and I recommend the ingredients over their prepared items, but where else are you going to find speciality chiles, authentic tortilla chips, and the like!? I only wish they stocked fresh tomatillos!
The overall dish was fantastic. I spaced out the prep over the course of a day, which made the house smell amazing, and it came together very easily in the end. The meat is so flavorful it doesn’t require many accoutrements. I served this as Pati recommends, in flour tortillas with guacamole and nothing else. We had a big green salad on the side.
Shredded Pork in Ancho-Orange Sauce (aka “Chilorio”)
3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, preferably with some fat, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
4 ancho chiles (approximately 2 ounces), rinsed, stemmed, and seeded
1/2 cup white onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican oregano is ideal, but I used “regular” and had no complaints!)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Place the pork in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add the orange juice, water, and 1 teaspoon salt, then bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 45 minutes, until most of the liquid has cooked away and the meat is browned and has rendered most of its fat. (Do not worry if this takes considerably longer than 45 minutes. I let the meat sizzle for a few extra minutes in the rendered fat, to give it a crisp carnitas quality.) Set the meat aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the rinsed, stemmed, and seeded chiles in a bowl, cover with hot water, and soak for 10 to 15 minutes, until softened.
Place the chiles, along with 1 1/2 cups of their soaking liquid, in a blender or food processor. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, cumin, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and vinegar. Puree until completely smooth.
Shred the pork and transfer it along with any juices to a separate bowl.
In the pot you used to cook the meat, heat the oil over medium heat. (Don’t wash the pot first–you want to get the benefit of all those residual drippings and juices!) Pour in the chile puree, bring to a simmer, and let cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce thickens and turns slightly darker. Mix in the shredded meat and any juices, then cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the meat has absorbed most of the chile sauce.
Serve in warm flour tortillas, or just eat with a fork while you stand at the stove… I won’t judge, either way!