Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chilorio, Mexican Pulled Pork

Chilorio Mexican Pulled Pork

“What is that incredible smell?” asked a friend as he walked in the door. I pointed to the stove where shredded pork was simmering in an earthy, spicy sauce made from ancho and guajillo chiles and said, “It’s chilorio. Mexican pulled pork.”

Now, you would think that the first time I would have had chilorio would have been in Texas, but instead it was in Midtown Manhattan. There was a taco stand in the basement of an office building and on its limited menu was chilorio, or Mexican pulled pork, as it was described.

Curious about what constituted Mexican pulled pork, I ordered one of the chilorio tacos and discovered that it was tender strands of pork that were a little spicy and a little sweet. It was rich and flavorful and went quite nicely with a creamy green salsa.

Chilorio Mexican Pulled Pork

A little research lead me to discover that chilorio is from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which is in the Northern part of the country. After trying it in New York, I occasionally started seeing it offered on Mex-Mex menus back home in Texas, and all reports were that it was a fine dish worthy of being included on the Texas table.

When I went in search of a recipe I discovered the method to making this was as if you had taken a batch of carnitas—tender, crisp, and lightly sweet from a splash of orange juice—and then given them a bath in a sauce made rich and earthy from anchos, guajillos, and garlic. If you ever wondered what would happen if you crossed carnitas with asado, chilorio would be the result.

You can serve chilorio on its own as a proper main dish, but I prefer to tuck it into warm tortillas, and then top it with salsa, cilantro, onions, and a crumble of Cotija cheese. It’s a terrific dish to serve on game day, though it also makes for a good weeknight dinner, especially since the leftovers heat up nicely if you choose to make it ahead of time.



Chilorio takes a while to cook but after it’s done, it’s very well suited for feeding many folks. Plus, as it cooks your home will fill with an incredible aroma, which will make it all the more welcome when it’s finally done. People will ask, “What’s cooking?” and you can tell them, chilorio—Mexican pulled pork.

Chilorio (adapted from Pati’s Mexican Kitchen)

3 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups orange juice, divided
2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup cilantro, plus more for serving
Flour or corn tortillas, for serving
Salsa, for serving
Diced onions, for serving
Cotija cheese, for serving

Place the pork butt into a large pot or Dutch oven and toss with 1 teaspoon of the ground cumin and salt. Pour over the pork 1 cup of the orange juice and add enough water for the liquid to just reach the top of the pork (but not cover it), about 1-1/2 cups.

Bring the pot to a boil on high, then turn the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2-2 hours or until the liquid is almost gone and the meat is fork tender.

Meanwhile, as the pork is cooking, in a dry skillet heated on high toast the ancho chiles and guajillo chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover the chiles. Leave the heat on until water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes.

Once hydrated, discard the soaking water, rinse the chiles, and then place in a blender. Add to the blender the garlic, vinegar, oregano, allspice, cilantro, and remaining 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 cup orange juice. Blend on high for 5 minutes until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt to taste.

When the pork is done, remove from the pot and when cool enough to handle shred the pork with two forks. Pour the sauce from the blender into the pot you cooked the pork, and with the heat on low, cook the sauce for 5 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the pan drippings into the sauce. Add the shredded pork back to the pot, and toss to coat.

Serve warm with tortillas, salsa, onions, cilantro, and Cotija cheese.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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55 comments:

Celeste said...

Sounds dee-lish! The leftovers (if there are any!) would make great enchiladas for a freezer meal.

Anonymous said...

This looks amazing! Thanks!

Catherine said...

I wonder if this could be adapted for a slow cooker?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Celeste--That's a great idea--I hadn't even thought of that!

Anon--You're welcome!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Catherine-- Because I don't have a slow cooker (no room in my kitchen!) and haven't tried it with this recipe, I can't give you time for the pork, but I'm sure you could cook it in one.

Melissa Taylor said...

This looks WONDERFUL!! I'm so in a rut lately, cooking the same things over and over, and I'm trying this ASAP. Thank you!

Steven said...

To answer the Slow Cooker question… yesterday I made an almost identical recipe for our dinner last night using a slow cooker and a 2.5 lb. pork shoulder. Cook time on that recipe in a slow cooker was listed as 10 hours on low, and I pulled it out right at 10 hours and it was perfect. The meat just fell apart.

We made tacos with it, garnished with a little guac, onion, cilantro, and cojita cheese, and accompanied by ripe plantains. It was amazing, and I've still got a bowl full of the leftover pork in the fridge to use up.

Dan from Platter Talk said...

Incredibly delicious sounding and in appearance as well. I will have chilorio on my culinary radar!!

Anonymous said...

Another great way to eat it is to serve with flour tortillas, mashed avocado and red onions that have been marinating in lime juice and a splash of vinegar

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Melissa--You're welcome!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Steven--Thanks for the tips!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Dan--It's a must!

Anon--That sounds terrific.

diek said...

Now Lisa that sounds deadly! Lots of bold flavors. This is next on the list for new recipes.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

diek--Enjoy!

Susan Lester said...

This looks fantastic! Love your photos!

Juliet Garza said...

Looks delish! Does it taste sweet? My family and I aren't big on sweet meat and salsas. Thanks! :)

Tommy in Toronto said...

Nice take on pulled pork. No smoke. So tired of pulled pork that relies on smoke for flavour. Thanks for sharing.

Kerri said...

My husband and I are about to move to Mobile from Houston, and I am dreading the move mostly because I will miss Mexican food and HEB (I am SO excited that I have your blog though!). What grocery store would you say is the most similar to HEB? I think Mobile has WalMart, Publix, and Winn Dixie.

Mary Waller Hall said...

Definitely going to try this. I cook things like this in the slow cooker all the time - chicken thighs, pork shoulder, beef brisket. I'm always surprised at how much liquid comes out of the meat so I will try skipping the water.

I'll put my game night chicken (for tacos) in the slow cooker tonight - I've added chipotle peppers to the recipe in your honor. I also use the leftover chicken to make your sour cream chicken enchiladas when there's any left.

Frank Smith said...

Lisa, remind me never to read your posts before eating breakfast!

Sfredette said...

Finally something mexican my husband might eat. He 'discovered' carne asada and stopped there; but he loves "traditional" pulled pork, so maybe I can sneak this in on him! Thank you!!!

Sandi Graham said...

Yum! I am planning on making pulled pork the weekend. I have been looking for the perfect recipe.

Krystal F. said...

You make my mouth water with some of these recipes. I LOVE carnitas and they have become a staple in our home. I can't think of anything better, but this might step them up a notch.

On a side note, my son is not a tex/mex or mex/mex fan (I know GASP, how could this be???), and I made a batch of your Asado recipe. He ate it out of the pan before I was even finished!! He has been converted. :-)

Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

Krystal from TX

Anonymous said...

Do you think adding soup broth (beef or chicken) would give it more flavor rather than adding water?

Pour over the pork 1 cup of the orange juice and add enough water for the liquid to just reach the top of the pork

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

This looks like the perfect thing to make this weekend...

Anonymous said...

They sell chilorio in a can at the H.E.B. here in Houston by me. Believe it or not it is delicious! We keep a couple of cans in the pantry for a quick anytime dinner.

Jon said...

Mercy, being a Texas boy at heart, but now marooned in Florida, that recipe just makes my mouth water. Definitely on my bucket-list.
Thanks for a great recipe and top-notch blog; but then again what would ya expect from a Texan and foodie....LOL.

More Cowbell said...

After you take the pork out of the pot, do you drain off the fat? I usually have lots of it left in there.
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Lisa
That green sauce in the picture with your Chilirio Tacos looks familiar. As soon as I saw it I thought of Mamacitas green sauce. Will you please post your recipe?

foodrevival.com said...

Just made it today and it was absolutely delicious. http://foodrevival.com/2013/09/15/homesick-texan-went-and-did-it-again-and-by-it-i-mean-she-blew-my-mind/

Randle said...

Okay, I didn't think the comments could make me want to eat this even more, but they do. Steven, yes I will need a slow-cooker now, and I will definitely need ripe plantains. And Anon, mashed avocado and marinated red onions--boy howdy. I've always said that pulled pork is the one thing keeping me from becoming a real vegetarian. Well, that and chili. And cured meats. Okay, pulled pork is just the gateway meat I guess.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Susan--Thank you!

Juliet--No, it's not sweet though there is a hint of orange.

Tommy--It's good to see you! And you're welcome!

Kerri--I've never been to Mobile, so I don't know. I do hear good things about Publix though. I reckon the best thing is to visit them all and see which one you prefer!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Mary--I'll have to tell Grandma that the love of chiles is going strong in our generation! And chipotle chicken in sour cream enchiladas sounds incredible--I can't wait to try that.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Frank--Ha! If you're hungry then I've done my job well.

Sfredette--I think if he loves traditional pulled pork he'd probably enjoy this, too.

Sandi--Hope it works for you.

Krystal--That's high praise! Thank you! And if he liked asado I'm pretty sure he'd enjoy this, too.

Anon--You could try it, but it already has plenty of flavor.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Rocky--It's indeed good weekend food.

Anon--Thanks for sharing--I had no idea.

Jon--Thank you!

More cowbell--You can drain off any excess fat.

Lisa--It's a recipe from my cookbook called Houston Style Green Sauce, though a similar recipe would be this recipe for Ninfa's green sauce.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Foodrevival--That was fast! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Randle--Pork is indeed the gateway meat!

Shelley said...

"What is that incredible smell?" has to be one of the happiest questions in the language.

Judy H said...

Made this over the weekend. This was my first time cooking using the dried chilies. No problem whatsoever and the result was amazingly delicious. I added orange zest to the pork when it was simmering. Otherwise, I left the recipe alone and let it speak for itself. Since we are a couple, there were leftovers and I plan on switching things up a little and serve the pork on Miami style onion rolls. We can add whatever toppings suit our fancy. This recipe is a definite "keeper". Judy H (Grand Rapids, MI)

Nicolle said...

That looks amazing! I am going to bookmark this page. Love all of your Texas inspired recipes, and your beautiful pictures. You speak right to this Texan's heart!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, I'm making this for tonight's dinner. I spent a short time in Texas Hill Country and I left a piece of my heart there when I left. I'm living in California now, and recipes like this bring back fond memories. Looking forward to see how it turns out!

KikMetoDeath said...

What's in that creamy green salsa?

Happy to improvise based on a rough ingredient list! I need to make this tonight.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Shelley--Indeed!

Judy--So glad y'all liked it! And I love the idea of serving it on onion rolls.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Nicolle--Thank you!

Anon--Hope you enjoy it!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kik--Try this:Ninfas green sauce.
.

czliu13 said...

Fellow misplaced Texan here! Just moved out to Richmond, VA. WOW I miss tacos!! So hard to find a good taco here. Gonna try out this recipe first chance I get!

On another note, would you happen to have any recommendations for some good salsas with heat? I don't know any of these east coast brands... yikes!

Anonymous said...

Dallas Cowboys game is on and the amazing smell of mexican pulled pork fills the air. Ahhh,, life is good. Thank you, Lisa.

Sharla, fellow Texan living in the Piney Woods,, or as I like to say, behind the pine curtain.

Samba00 said...

Hey Lisa,

Made your asado recipe last night and was going to add the leftover pork into some beans tonight, but now I think I'll make this since I have everything in my pantry except the OJ.

Unrelated, but did you see any Hatch around NYC this season? My go to Whole Foods at Union Square didn't have them.

Jenn said...

this recipe sounds great! with the 2 chiles, is it spicy?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

czliu13--I like to make my own salsa. Here's a good salsa recipe that can be made as hot as you like.

Sharla--You're welcome. I love the term "behind the pine curtain!"

Samba00--The only store I saw them at this year was Whole Foods Tribeca.

Jenn--I don't find it very spicy.

Pau F said...

Please try it for breakfast on a cool morning, it's crazy good and hearty! Fry a bit of chilorio on a nonstick pan with a little bit of fat (oil, butter, whatever you prefer). Then add two scrambled eggs, cook until almost completely set. Serve with flour tortillas and salsa verde.

Anonymous said...

This has made my wife very happy. She has not had chilorio in years. Just as she remembers it. Thanks.

SAM said...

Made this for four people. We wrapped some in a tortilla with sour cream and guacamole for a perfect picnic treat. With some left overs I fried some potatoes and onions mixed in the pulled pork for a kinda breakfast taco. Thanks Lisa!

Anonymous said...

Made this last night and it was delicious! Thank you!
Anne L.

Darcie said...

My husband made this yesterday and we could barely wait for dinner to roll around to dig in. We ate in a near silence that was punctuated only by "Wow, I love the Homesick Texan" and "She's a genius" and "I love this so much." You should be congratulated.

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