Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I have been in a Mexican state of mind not only because of Cinco de Mayo, but also because of a dish that I've been interested to try and what a great excuse to make it, Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner. I also intend to use some of the pot roast for another Mexican dish which  I will be blogging soon.

This recipe is from Rick Bayless Mexican Kitchen Cookbook. I've been planning on making carnitas, carne asado or anything with braising, slow cooking.  This dish is what i've been looking for, simple, easy yet has a complex flavor. Roasting the chiles were not necessary, according to Rick Bayless, for this type of long cooking dish, you will not be able to distinguish the taste of roasted or not roasted peppers  which was surprisingly true. Don't be deceived or be overwhelmed with the process, it is easy, promise.

The dried and herb ingredients are easy to find, they are all in the Mexican aisle in your grocery store. I used  a 5 lb. pork shoulder picnic w/ skin on.

Note: Pls. wear gloves as you handle the dried chiles. I should have known better! I had my gloves ready, i knew the consequence if you'll not wear one..but..of course i got so excited i forgot to wear my gloves and went ahead rubbed the side of my eye..ouch!! that was one my DUH moment!

You will have to add patience to the ingredients because you'll definitely be on a waiting game and oh ..add torture game. The recipe says at least 2-3 hours for a picnic ham, i cooked mine for 4 1/2 hours. Torture game? yes!! oh the aroma, it was all over the house and made me so hungry, but it was well worth it. Okay..without further a do, here's the recipe and some pictures.

Y: 6 servings (enough meat for 20 good size tacos)


2 medium ( about 1 0z.) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

4 medium (about 1 0z.) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons cider vinegar ( 4 T OF CIDER VINEGAR- 2 T  WOULDN'T SUFFICE)

1/2 small white onion, peeled and roughly chopped, plus a few slices for garnish.

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs such as marjoram, thyme, and Mexican oregano

1/4 teaspoon allspice, fresh ground

1 pinch ground cloves

1 ½ tablespoon lard or oil

1/2 teaspoon salt (1 TABLESPOON SALT)

3 lbs. pork shoulder, boneless or Boston butt roast or 4 ½ lbs. fresh picnic ham with skin (for classic crispy skin)

8 romaine leaves, for garnish

3 radishes thinly slices, for garnish



Chile paste:
Place the chiles in a small bowl, cover with hot water and let stand for 30 minutes to rehydrate, stirring occasionally to ensure even soaking. Drain, reserving 2/3 C liquid, then transfer the chiles and reserved liquid to a food processor.  (I SAVED ALL THE LIQUID FOR LATER USE.)

Pulverize the bay leaves in a spice grinder or mortar, then add to the blender along with the vinegar, onion, garlic, mixed herbs, allspice, and cloves. Process to a smooth puree (adding a little more water if needed to keep the mixture moving through the blades); press through a medium-mesh strainer into a small bowl. (USED THE SOAKED LIQUID.) (I SKIPPED THE STRAINING STEP)

Set a large 6 quarts pot with lids (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat and add the lard or oil. When hot enough to make a drop of the puree really sizzle, add it all at once. Stir constantly as the puree sears, concentrates and darkens into a spicy smelling paste, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt.

Seasoning and pot-roasting the meat:
Turn on the oven to 325 degrees F. If you are using pork shoulder or butt, cut into slabs roughly 3 inches thick. Leave a picnic ham whole but make 1 inch deep incisions every few inches all over the meat. Lay the meat in the pot with the chile paste, then flip it over to cover with the chile (slathering with a spoon or spatula to give an even coating.) Pour ½ C water around the meat, cover tightly, and place in the oven. (AGAIN I USED THE SOAKED WATER)

Baste the meat every 30 minutes with the liquid (SOAKED LIQUID) and rendered fat that accumulates around it. After about 2 ½ hours ( fresh ham may need about ½ hour to 1 hour) (4 1/2 HOUR TOTAL) the meat will be fork-tender and will have darkened to an appetizing and crusty rich, red-brown. If all the liquid evaporated during the cooking, leaving only chile-paste and fat, dribble a little more water into the pan so you can go on basting. If time allows, let the pork stand, covered, for 20 - 30 minutes to reabsorb the juices before serving. ( I TOOK OFF THE LID AND  BROIL THE MEAT FOR 10-15 MINUTES TO MAKE THE SKIN CRISPY)

Serving the meat: Line a serving platter with the lettuce leaves. Transfer the meat to the platter, then taste the pan juices and add a little more salt if necessary. Spoon the juices over the meat, then scatter the onion slices, and radish slices over all.

The recipe didn't suggest serving this w/ tortilla but i did, along w/ some of the chili paste.



Chile Paste! This is really good, i can definitely use this with other dishes. I opted not to strain the paste, i don't think it is necessary. I want it to stay rustic, but if the seeds and other particles bother you go ahead and strain the paste.

Notice the shiny part? that's the crispy skin.

This salad added another layer of flavor to the dish. Good stuff!

Rick Bayless didn't suggest the tortilla, but i think it's a must to the dish.


  1. Gee, for some reason i am craving this. I love to make these types and many other dishes from the pork picnic. I'll have to switch things around as far as the chiles though.. don't think we have them ..

  2. Hi, Kim! Oh i'd love for you to try this. I think your family will love this. As for the chiles, Ancho chile is Poblano pepper in the raw stage, guajillo are the cayenne peppers. You will have to roast them 'tho.

  3. So, i made this, but my way... i got a paste the other day,. It's called Gourmet Garden fresh blends Mexican herb and spice blend. Made life a whole lot easier!

  4. I'll give this a try Pia :)