Chilorio, a slow-cooked carnitas recipe with a delicious ancho chile sauce, hails from the Mexican state of Sinaloa. It is a perfect recipe for leftovers – if you have a busy week ahead, make this on this weekend and enjoy it all week long. Chilorio will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, so feel free to make plenty and the whole family can have some. If you are on an autoimmune diet, just stop this recipe before adding the sauce and enjoy the carnitas!
Type of dish: Dinner
Equipment: Cooking pot, blender
Servings: Makes 6 to 8 servings
For the carnitas:
- 4 pounds pork butt with its fat, cut into 2 inch chunks (If you have a larger piece of 8 pound pork butt or a smaller piece of 2 pound, simply double or halve the recipe as needed. An 8 pound pork butt will give you a great week’s worth of leftovers!)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- juice of 3 oranges
For the chilorio sauce:
- 6 ancho chiles (dried Poblanos)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- salt to taste
- 1 cup chile soaking water after soaking the chiles
- lettuce for serving, along with other vegetable sides or garnishes such as avocado, salsa, grilled onions, etc.
To make carnitas:
- In a large, heavy cooking pot, place the pork chunks, and toss them with the salt and 1 tsp dried oregano. Squeeze in the juice of the oranges.
- Cover the pork just barely with water, or to have fun and be authentic, you can experiment with using lard instead of water. I’m keeping it simple with water for this recipe.
- Bring the pork to a simmer. Turn the heat to medium low and allow the pork to cook until much of water evaporates, the pork has rendered its fat, and the meat is fork tender. Stir occasionally during the cooking process, and leave the pot uncovered during cooking. Cooking time will be about 2 or more hours.
- Remove the meat from the pot, let it cool, and shred it with two forks, or chop it with a chef’s knife.
To make the chilorio sauce:
- Remove the seeds and stems from the dried ancho chiles and break or cut them into pieces. In a glass or ceramic bowl, place the chiles and then cover with hot boiling water (or extra hot cooking liquid from the pork if there is a lot left over.) Let the chiles soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
- In a blender, mix the garlic, apple cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp oregano. Add the chiles and 1 cup of their soaking water. Blend to form a thick sauce.
To assemble the dish:
- In a skillet, add a TB or two of lard or rendered fat from the pot in which pork was cooked, and prepare to mix in the chilorio sauce with the shredded pork. You may not need to add the entire batch of sauce; add spoonful by spoonful until you get the meat thoroughly covered with the sauce, but not to the point that the skillet is soupy. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until the pork is dry and the meat has absorbed the flavors. Stir frequently to prevent sticking to the pan.
- Serve on a lettuce wrap with guacamole, pico de gallo, or other vegetables of choice.
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