Chilorio (Sinaloan Pork in Chile Sauce)

Chilorio
Chilorio is wonderfully versatile; it can be eaten with tortillas as a main dish, or used to stuff tamales or tortas or to top tostadas or sopes. Photo (c) Robin Grose
    2 hrs 40 mins
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Chilorio is a dish with origins in the state of Sinaloa and enjoyed all over northern Mexico. It is usually made with pork, but sometimes beef or chicken are used, and the sauce is created from dried chiles.

This dish is made by cooking the meat in water and fat, then frying it with the chiles and spices. Because of the ingredients used (especially when vinegar is included), it can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks with no problem—and much longer in the freezer. (The use of vinegar also helps to tone down somewhat the chiles’ spiciness, while leaving their flavor intact.)

Nowadays chilorio is relatively easy to find in large supermarkets or Hispanic stores in canned or jarred form, but it is so easy to make that it makes sense to prepare you own. That way you will know exactly what ingredients are in your chilorio and you can tweak the spices to your own personal taste.

Chilorio makes a great filling for tacos, tortas, burritos, and tamales—or you can serve it as a main dish, accompanied, perhaps, by some refried beans and/or rice.

Note: This recipe calls for pork lard. You can use vegetable oil instead, but some flavor will be lost without the lard.

 

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds / 900 grams boneless pork
  • 4-5 cups water (or chicken, meat, or vegetable broth)
  • 3-4 dried ancho chiles (or similar chiles)*
  • 1/2 cup good quality pork lard
  • 1/2 of a medium-sized onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup white or apple vinegar—optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt

How to Make It

*Any combination of dried Mexican peppers would work here. Try a mixture of ancho, pasilla,guajillo, and/or morita chiles, for example, if you have different varieties on hand; each type lends its own flavor accent. The number of chiles can also vary according to your taste; ramp the sauce up for hardcore chile heads, tone it down for more conservative diners.

  1. In a large pot, simmer the pork in the water or broth, covered, for 2 hours.

    During the last 20 minutes of cooking time, ladle out enough liquid to cover the dried chiles in a bowl. Let the chiles soak in the liquid until they are soft, then remove and discard their stems and seeds. Set chiles aside.

  1. When the pork is done simmering, drain off the liquid, reserving 1 cup. Pull the pork into bite-sized chunks.

    Heat the lard in a large pan until melted. Fry the pork in the lard until it browns. Remove the pork and set aside.

  2. Cook the onions in the lard until translucent. Remove them from the pan and set aside to cool slightly.

  3. Place the chiles, onions, vinegar (optional), cumin, oregano, garlic, and salt, and reserved (1 cup) water/broth in a blender. Blend until smooth.

  4. Drain most of the lard from the pan, then put the pork into the pan with the blended chile sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes or so to thicken the sauce and bring the flavors together.

Edited by Robin Grose