Carnitas de Cerdo

This Mexican chile pepper is called “Chilaca” when used fresh. In California the Poblano chile is often called Pasilla. Since most of these are bought and distributed from California this mislabeling often carries over into the supermarkets nationwide causing alot of confusion. This chile is very mild and is usually consumed in the dry form to make the famous Mexican ‘mole’ sauces.

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1 pound of pork butt, cut into 1″ pieces
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
8 small corn tortillas
chopped onion, for garnish
chopped cilantro, for garnish

Salsa for carnitas:

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
10 pasilla chiles, cleaned and deveined
1-1/2 cups beef broth, divided
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled


For Carnitas:

Place the pork, water, bay leaf, garlic, onion, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the pork until all of the water has evaporated. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook until the pork is crisp on the outside. Remove the pork from the pan and drain the meat on paper towels. Allow the meat to cool completely, then shred the pork with the tines of two forks and reserve.

For Salsa:

In a comal or saute pan over medium heat, toast the onions and chiles until the onions are caramelized but not browned, about 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup of beef broth to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the toasted onions and chiles. Let them steep for 20 minutes or until the peppers are very soft and pliable. Place the onion/chile/beef broth mixture in a food processor or blender and add the olive oil and garlic and puree until smooth. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add the remaining half-cup of broth, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture will blend.

To serve:

Toss the pork shreds in a small amount of the pureed pasilla chili salsa mixture. Place the pieces of pork over warm tortillas and sprinkle with chopped onions and cilantro and serve with fresh guacamole, the remaining pasilla chile salsa and/or salsa fresca.

Recipe by, Chef Martin Rios, The Old House Restaurant at the El Dorado Hotel, Santa Fe.