Chili el Pastor

The Guajillo (wha-hee-oh) chile is the most common dried chile in Mexico after the Ancho. The flavor of the Guajillo is distinct, slightly fruity with a strong piney, berry under taste. Guajillo flavors dished easily so a little goes a long way. This chile is between a 2-4 on the heat scale of 1-10. Guajillo, combined with the Passilla and Ancho, form the holy trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces.

Suggested Use:
A mildly hot chile. Use in sauces, salsa, soups and your favorite chile. A little goes a long way.

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3.5 lb boneless pork shoulder
2 valencia oranges
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
5 dried guajillo chiles (about 1 oz)
1 large dried ancho chile (about 1 oz)
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions
4 medium cloves garlic
14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
2 large or 3 medium bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
coarsely chopped cilantro (garnish)
finely diced onion or sliced green onion (garnish)
lime wedges (garnish)


Preheat oven to 350º F. Start a pot of water to boil. Trim excess fat from the pork shoulder, and cut into approximately 1-inch chunks. Transfer the chunks to a medium to large bowl. Zest one of the oranges. Sprinkle the orange zest over the pork chunks, and set the 2 oranges aside. Sprinkle the cumin, salt, pepper, and cloves over the pork chunks. Toss well to evenly coat with the seasonings. Allow to rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Remove and discard the stems and seeds from the chiles. Roast the chiles in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, until you can start to smell them. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl. Cover with 2 to 3 cups of water, and allow to steep for 15 or more minutes to soften. Turn off the oven.

Dice the onion and set aside (you should have 2 to 2 ½ cups of diced onion.) Mince the garlic and set aside (you should have about 4 teaspoons.) Juice the oranges into a 2 cup glass measure and set aside (you should have between ¾ and 1 cup.)

Heat oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pork chunks, and cook stirring every 3 or so minutes until nicely browned with no pink remaining. Reduce heat to medium, and add diced onion and minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent. Add the diced tomatoes (including the juice), bay leaves, and oregano. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer.

Remove the chiles from the soaking water, and transfer them to the blender. Add enough of the soaking water to the orange juice to make 2 cups total, then add the juice mixture to the blender. Pulse several times, then blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender once. Pour the chile purée into the pork mixture.

Gently simmer the chili until the pork is tender, stirring occasionally. This will take about 2 hours. At this point you can cool and refrigerate the chili until you are ready to serve it, then gently reheat. Otherwise lower heat as much as possible, and proceed with making the polenta and caramelizing the pineapple. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lime juice, and thin with water if needed just before serving.

To serve: Place a wedge of polenta into each bowl. Divide chili evenly amongst bowls. Divide caramelized pineapple evenly amongst bowls (you should have about ¼-cup per serving.) Garnish with cilantro, onion, and lime wedges. Enjoy!