Slow Braised Chile Pork Tacos

This is an improvised adaptation of a mexican classic, the humble taco. Succulent tender pork shoulder, slow braised in a dark marinade of mexican spices then forked apart and served in a soft warm tortilla with fresh guacamole and coriander. Disfrute de esta mis amigos!


Some quality free-range pork, I asked my butcher for the shoulder, bone in, which weighed about 1.7kg. You don’t need to have the bone, I just know it will add greatly to the flavour especially when slow cooked.

This next list of ingredients could be difficult to come by, depending where you live, I just happen to be hosting a Mexican Fiesta on the weekend and have had a boxful of goodies delivered from Fireworks Foods over in Sydney, they have excellent products, well priced and fast delivery. Specialist deli’s should be able to help you out with some of these, or try your local Mexican Restaurant, they will be happy to steer you in the right direction.

  • 1 whole dried Mulato chile, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
  • I tbsp ground ancho chile powder
  • 1 tbsp ground chipotle chile powder
  • 2 chipotle chiles, normally found in a can in adobo sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 6 or 7 cloves
  • Vegetable oil or similar (not olive oil though)
  • sea salt
  • Warm corn or flour tortillas
  • To serve, any combination of: sour cream, hot sauce, guacamole, thinly sliced white onions and coriander


  1. Take the Mulato chile from it bowl of warm water, remove the stem and place in a food processor, pour in about 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid and pulse until roughly chopped.
  2. Grind the bay leaves and cloves together in a mortar and pestle and add them to the food processor along with the cider vinegar, onion, garlic, oregano, allspice and cloves.  Process to a smooth puree, adding water if needed to keep the mixture moving through the blades.
  3. Heat a good 2-3 table spoons of the oil over medium-high heat until it is hot and almost smoking.  Quickly but carefully pour in the puree and stir constantly. This step is crucial to the success of your dish, the aim is to sear the mixture and then allow it to concentrate and darken into a paste without burning. In about 5 minutes you should be dancing around the kitchen shouting Arriba! Arriba! in a sensory-blowing cloud of spicy mexican fragrance. Re-focus and calmly remove the pot from the heat.
  4. Taste the paste. Add a little sea salt to your liking. Taste it again. If it is only a little too spicy for your taste buds, don’t worry, this will mellow during the braise. If it is really too spicy, try adding a tablespoon of soft brown sugar, this too will help make it more bearable.
  5. Now for the pork. Preheat the oven to the highest setting.  Cut the pork shoulder from the bone (if applicable) into generous slabs a bit bigger than your fist.  Place the pork and the bone into a casserole dish (with lid) or roasting pan and pour in the paste, massaging and rubbing it in all over, making sure it is well coated. Perhaps sing a Mexican lullaby.
  6. Place in the oven, uncovered, and roast at full throttle for 10 minutes, then take it out and turn the heat down to 160C.
  7.  If you have some stock handy, pour that in, otherwise about 1/2 cup of water will do. Now cover tightly, double tin foil if using a roasting pan, and return to the oven. Roast for 2 1/2 hours; its a good idea to turn the meat in the juices about 3-4 times during this time.  If all of the moisture evaporates, add more stock/water, though if the pan is sealed well this shouldn’t be a problem.
  8. Cooking the chile paste; pork shoulder divided into chunks; the marinated pork ready to go into the oven
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for at least 20 minutes without removing the lid. This is a good time to make the guacamole or get anything else you need ready for the main event. Using nothing more than two forks pull the meat apart in a separate serving dish (pre-warmed ideally), then pour and toss the pan juices through. Check again for taste, salt etc, then proudly place the dish on the table.

    Pull those forks through that pork!
  10. And there you have it – slow braised chile pork tacos!
    Time to get down and dirty, mexican style… Arrribaaaah!!!

Served in a soft warm tortilla with guacamole, sour cream and fresh coriander.

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