Photograph by Johnny Miller Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Theo Vamvounakis

Ancho-Braised Pork

Mains from Issue 4 – Fall / Winter 2014 – Cocoon

A brief prep lays the foundation for a very leisurely braise—about four episodes of whatever TV show you are catching up on—when the real transformation happens: a melding of flavors, a rendering of meat into fall-off-the-bone tenderness. Have something starchy on hand (like corn tortillas or mashed potatoes) to sop up that sauce.

serves 6 to 8

  • 1 (4 to 5 lb) skinless bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 ¾ tsp salt, divided
  • 3 ancho chiles, seeds and stems discarded
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • about 2 Tbsp canned chipotles in adobo
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle meat with ¾ tsp salt and let stand at room temperature while making purée.

  • 2

    Soak anchos in boiling water to soften, about 15 minutes. Transfer chiles to a blender with a slotted spoon with ½ cup chili soaking liquid (reserving the remainder). Blend with onion, garlic, brown sugar, chipotles, tomato paste, cloves, and remaining tsp salt. Purée until very smooth.

  • 3

    Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add purée and cook, stirring, until it turns a rich brick color, about 8 minutes. Stir in remaining soaking liquid and cocoa. Add pork and cinnamon and bring to a simmer. Cover and braise in oven, basting occasionally, until very tender, 3½ to 4½ hours.

  • 4

    Skim fat from sauce. If sauce is thin, transfer meat to a bowl and loosely cover. Simmer sauce until thickened. Ease meat from bones with a fork and pour sauce over.