This rich and robust New Mexican stew is as much about the chiles as it is about the pork. For a version that would showcase these key ingredients while staying true to the dish’s traditional simplicity, we started with a generous 4 ounces of mild dried New Mexican chiles. To preserve the chiles’ fruity flavor, we skipped toasting them, only steeping them in hot water to make them pliable. We then made a flavorful puree by blending the chiles with honey and vinegar (both traditional additions), along with garlic, spices, and just enough of the flavorful chile soaking liquid to make a smooth and luxurious puree. Boneless pork butt’s generous marbling held up well to braising, and salting the meat for an hour while preparing the chile sauce seasoned it throughout and helped it stay juicy. Moving the Dutch oven to the oven made for more hands-off cooking; we didn’t even need to brown the meat since the pieces that were not submerged in sauce during cooking could brown in the Dutch oven’s ambient heat. Pork butt roast is often labeled Boston butt in the supermarket. When shopping for dried chiles, look for those that are pliable and smell slightly fruity. We prefer using Mexican oregano here, but Mediterranean can be substituted. Serve with rice and beans, crispy potatoes, or flour tortillas with shredded lettuce and chopped tomato.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- Total Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes
- 4 pounds boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 4 ounces (8 to 12) dried New Mexican chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Lime wedges
- Toss pork with 1½ teaspoons salt in bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Bring 4 cups water to boil. Place New Mexican chile pieces in medium bowl. Pour boiling water over chiles, making sure they are completely submerged, and let sit until chiles are softened, about 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Drain chiles in fine-mesh strainer set over bowl and reserve 2 cups of soaking liquid (discard any remaining soaking liquid). Process chiles, honey, vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, cloves, and ½ teaspoon salt in blender until chiles are finely ground and thick paste forms, about 30 seconds. With blender running, add 1 cup soaking liquid and blend until puree is smooth, 1½ to 2 minutes, adding up to additional ¼ cup liquid to maintain vortex. Add remaining soaking liquid and continue to blend sauce at high speed, 1 minute longer.
- Combine pork and chile sauce in Dutch oven and bring to simmer, stirring to coat pork evenly, over medium-high heat. Cover, transfer pot to oven, and cook until pork is tender, 2 to 2½ hours.
- Remove pot from oven. Using wooden spoon, scrape any browned bits from sides of pot and stir until pork and sauce are recombined and sauce is smooth and homogeneous. Let sit, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Adjust consistency with extra hot water as needed. Season with salt to taste. Serve with lime wedges.