Chile-Citrus Pork with Sauteed Pears

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

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6 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 sun-dried tomato halves (not oil-packed)
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tsp. oregano
kosher salt
2-1/2 pounds trimmed boneless center-cut pork loin
freshly ground pepper
3 large ripe Comice pears, peeled, cored and sliced lengthwise 1/3″ thick
6 cups watercress, stemmed


In a bowl, soak the chiles in hot water until they are softened, about 20 minutes. In another bowl, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water until they are softened, about 15 minutes. Drain the chiles and tomatoes, then coarsely chop the chiles.

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onion, chiles and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 6 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and add the orange juice, lemon juice, tomato paste, orange zest, tarragon, oregano and 2 Tbsp. of kosher salt. Puree the ingredients until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Roast the pork in a roasting pan for about 15 minutes, or until it starts to brown. Spread 6 Tbsp. of the chile paste on the pork. Lower the oven temperature to 375F and roast for 10 minutes. Spread another 2 Tbsp. of the chile paste on the pork and roast for about 30 minutes more, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meat reads 145F. Cover with foil and let the pork rest for 5 minutes. Season the meat with salt and pepper.

In a nonstick skillet, cook the pear slices over moderately high heat, without stirring, until tender and golden, about 4 minutes. Arrange the watercress and pears on a serving platter. Slice the pork into 1/4″ thick slices and arrange on top.

Recipe by Charlie Palmer From “Cooking Lean” in the January, 1997 issue of Food and Wine Magazine.