This is a very popular dish in many northern states of Mexico; it’s a favorite for special occasions like birthdays, weddings and family reunions. There are many versions of this dish, but the main ingredients are almost always the same: pork, dried peppers, and spices. This stew is known as Asado de Puerco in the State of Nuevo Leon, and I’m sure there must be other names that I’m not familiar with, but there’s one thing I’m sure of, it tastes delicious, and even better the next day!
The fist time I tried this dish was at the house of one of my aunts; she cooked it for New Year’s and served with flour tortillas. After a while I was living in the South of Mexico, and I started to recreate the recipe as I remember the flavors and aroma of the stew. It wasn’t until I went to live to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, when I found out what local cooks added to the recipe. People from that region use a type of oregano that is found growing wild in the semi-arid soil of the area; this gives a very distinctive flavor to the stew. One of the ladies that used to help me at home told me that her mom always added a small piece of dried orange peel to the sauce. I’ve tried that as well, and it changes the flavor a lot.
This is not a spicy (hot) stew, the spices add flavor but aren’t too overpowering. You can add a little bit more, however, if that’s your preference. Since this recipe is a bit time consuming, making a double batch is a wise option; simply freeze the extra for another occasion and enjoy.
· 2 pounds of boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
· 2 tbs. of cooking oil or lard
· Water as needed
For the sauce:
· 4 ancho peppers
· 4 guajillo Peppers
· 1/8 of an avocado pit (Optional)*
· 3 large garlic cloves
· 8 peppercorns
· 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
· 2 cloves
· 2 bay leaves
· ½ tsp. cumin seeds
· ½ inch of a cinnamon stick
· ½ teaspoon dried thyme
· Salt to season
· If you don’t have the avocado seed, you can skip using it. I’ve found it gives a little thickness to the sauce besides a little bit of tart flavor.
· This stew requires about 1 ½ hr. of cooking, so take your time when planning to make it.
1. In a heavy pot, cover the pork with water, and cook over medium/high heat until the meat is tender and water has evaporated. This will take about 45-50 minutes. If the meat is still not soft and tender, add more water and keep cooking. Once the meat is tender, add the oil or lard and keep cooking until the meat is just browned and tender.
2. While the pork is cooking, use your kitchen scissors to slice open the peppers. Remove the seeds, veins, and then slightly roast them for a few second on each side on a warm skillet, but do not allow them to burn. Cover with hot water and leave to soak for about 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly, reserving the water used.
3. Put ¾ cups of soaking water into the blender, a few of the chilies, garlic, cumin, oregano, peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves, thyme, cinnamon and the little piece of avocado seed, and blend for at least 1 minute. Add a ½ cup of the soaking water and blend for a few more seconds to mix thoroughly. Add the rest of the chilies a little at a time and blend until smooth, adding more water as needed to mix thoroughly. If you have one of those modern blenders with higher capacity and more power, then you can process the salsa in just one step, pouring 2 cups of the soaking water in the blender with the peppers and spices and blending until you have a very smooth sauce.
4. Pass the sauce through a strainer and add to the pot with the meat. Cook over medium heat and stir frequently to prevent sticking. Add more water as needed, salt to taste, and keep stirring until the sauce thickens to the consistency of thick gravy. This will take about 15 minutes.
Serve with rice and corn tortillas
|This recipe was originally published December 14th, 2008, it was my first post on this blog. Check the quality of the picture!|
Thank you for visiting Mexico in my Kitchen.