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Cinco de Mayo Chile Braised Pork

Posted May 11 2011 7:38am

*Don’t forget to enter my Kay’s Naturals giveaway ! It ends tonight at midnight!*

A week late, but here is the Cinco de Mayo recipe I used to celebrate the holiday (and Matt’s birthday). When I saw this spread in Bon Appetit’s latest issue, I knew it was perfect for the occasion(s).

I hope it brightens your Wednesday!

Chile Braised Pork Tacos with Pickled Onions, Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans and Jalapeño Salsa.


Chile Braised Pork Tacos

I braised the pork shoulder the night before, for maximum flavor. We bought a 3 lb shoulder from the local butcher and it was just enough for two people plus leftovers. I halved the recipe, so these are my adapted marinade ingredients:

  • 2 large (4 small) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 3-lb. boneless pork shoulder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 12-oz. bottle Negro Modelo or other dark beer
  • 12 (or more) 6" corn tortillas

    Place chiles in a medium bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover, and set a small plate or bowl on top to keep the chiles submerged. Let soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain chiles, reserving 1/2 cup soaking liquid.
  • IMG_3882

    Preheat the oven to 350°. Place chiles, sugar, lime juice, and 1/8 cup reserved soaking liquid in a blender or food processor. Purée chile mixture, adding more soaking liquid as needed to form a smooth paste. Season pork generously with salt and spread paste over pork.

    Heat oil in a large heavy pot (Dutch oven or otherwise) over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, coriander, cumin, and allspice. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add beer; bring to a boil.

    If you can put your pot directly into the oven, add the pork, cover, and transfer. If not, place your pork in a large baking dish and pour beer mixture over the pork. Cover with foil.

    Braise pork, basting occasionally with pan juices, until very tender, about 2 ½ hours. If you’re doing this ahead of time, let the pork cool slightly, then chill uncovered until cold, and cover. Rewarm before continuing.

    IMG_3886 IMG_3887

    When you’re ready and the pork is warm, transfer it to a plate and shred with two forks. Return to a large skillet and pour pan juices over it. We kept it on a very low temperature, to keep it warm.

    Also, drink something fun!


    Pickled Onions  
    (1 cup)

    • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • Kosher salt

    Place onion slices in a medium bowl. Pour vinegar and 1/2 cup warm water over onion. Stir in sugar and season with salt; let stand until slightly pickled, about 30 minutes. Drain.

    (We didn’t drain, just let them sit in their pickled onion juices!)


    Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans
    (about 6 servings)

    • 1 lb bag dried pinto beans
    • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
    • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped
    • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
    • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 2 jalapeños, seeded, minced, divided
    • Kosher salt

    Place beans in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 4". Let soak overnight. Drain beans.

    Heat oil in same large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon to pot and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tbsp drippings from pot. Add onion, garlic, and 1 minced jalapeño and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.

    Add drained beans to pot. Pour in enough water to cover beans by 2" (about 8 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water by 1/2-cupfuls if dry, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Stir in remaining jalapeño and reserved bacon. Season to taste with salt.


    (Can you tell I was cooking Mexican?)


    I attempted the guacamole recipe but my avocados weren’t ripe enough! I couldn’t mash them up. It was a sad moment when I realized that we would have no guac with dinner.


    I switched up the salsa recipe to make this creamy roasted jalapeno salsa from Lottie + Doof. It ended up a bit oily, so I would reduce the oil.

    Creamy Roasted Jalapeno Salsa

    In a large skillet over medium heat, roast the jalapeños and unpeeled garlic until soft and blotchy brown, 15-20 minutes. Cool, then peel the garlic and roughly chopped the jalapeños. (you can remove some of the seeds for less heat, if desired). 

    Combine the garlic, chiles, and lime juice in a blender and pulse to finely chop. Turn blender on and slowly dribble in the oil. Pour into a small bowl and add a tablespoon or two of water to thin the salsa. Taste and add salt.


    Put it all together and you have a Cinco de Mayo feast! I fell in love with that pork, especially with the pickled onions on top. The beans were good, and the salsa was decent.


    But the pork…

    Oh, the pork…

    IMG_3911 IMG_3913   
    Question: What’s your favorite taco fillings?

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