Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 39: Pork Shoulder with Mole Sauce

I usually save the more complicated recipes for Sunday, because Sundays are our take it easy, stay at home day so I have lots of time to cook.  This weekend my brother and his family are visiting from Sequim, and we're all getting together for lunch tomorrow so I decided to make my "big" meal today.

The recipe calls for a boneless pork roast to be cut into 1" pieces, and then marinated for at least eight hours so at 7:00 this morning I went to grab the roast out of the refrigerator wasn't there.  It was still in the freezer.  I forgot to defrost it!  Paul graciously agreed to an emergency run to the store but they didn't have a boneless pork shoulder roast, so he had to buy one bone-in.  Well actually he got two roasts.  Seems that Safeway was running a buy one, get one free deal (yay?).

Anyway, I was an hour behind schedule but I wasn't worried -- we'd just eat at 7:00 instead of 6:00.  I lost another half hour cutting the roast into small pieces (took longer than I thought to cut around the bone) and making the marinade but, okay, we'll eat at 7:30 instead of 7:00.  

So now it's 7 1/2 hours later, and I start chopping the veggies.  Paul was a big help roasting the peppers (there's 2 pasilla, 2 serrano, and 1 habanero chile in this stew!).  As the veggies were cooking I went to remove the pork from the marinade.  Now the recipe said to chop cilantro stems for the marinade so I did.  I chopped them into about 1/2" pieces, and so now I had 1" pork bits covered with a zillion 1/2" cilantro stems.  Took about 20 minutes to clean them all off.  (Next time I'll just chopping the stems in half!)  Okay, so maybe dinner will be at 8:00 instead of 7:30.  

So, 8:30 rolls around, and we are finally sitting down to eat.  The pork is tender and delicious, and the sauce is good -- not too spicy.  I like it best with the rice, pork and mole sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla.  My only complaint is the sauce is a little too chocolate-y.  It was definitely worth all the time and effort, and I'll make this again but maybe next time I'll only use half the amount of chocolate.

Pork Shoulder with Mole Sauce
A Great American Cook
Yield:  6 to 8 servings

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder
12 garlic cloves
1 bunch fresh cilantro
2 cups sake
2 dried pasilla chiles
2 serrano chiles
1 habanero chile
2 medium onions
1/4 pound thick-cut bacon
4 ripe tomatoes or drained canned plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Kosher Salt
3-4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup basmati rice
Freshly ground black pepper

For finishing the stew:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup all purpose flour

Warmed corn tortillas or corn bread for serving.

At least 8 hours or the day before, marinate the pork.
     Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes and place in a large bowl.  Smash 2 of the garlic cloves.  Remove the leaves from the cilantro and reserve them for garnish.  Chop the cilantro stems and add them to the pork, along with the smashed garlic.  Pour in the sake and stir well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight, turning the pork occasionally.

Make the stew:
     Soak the pasilla chiles in warm water until soft, about an hour.  Stem, seed, and finely chop them.
     Meanwhile, roast the serrano and habanero chiles over medium high heat on the stove top or under a hot broiler, turning occasionally, until blackened and blistered all over.  Place the chiles in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam for 15 minutes.
     Peel the roasted chiles with your fingers (do not rinse); stem, seed, and finely chop them.  Mix all the chiles together.
     Chop the onions.  Mince the remaining 10 garlic cloves.  Cut the bacon into 1x1/4 inch strips.  Core, seed, and chop the fresh tomatoes, or seed and chop the canned tomatoes.
     Place a large enameled cast iron casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook the bacon until it renders some of its fat, about 5 minutes.  Add the onions, garlic, half the chiles, and the tomatoes and saute until the onions are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer the bacon and vegetables to a bowl and set aside.  Wipe out the pot.
     Remove the pork from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and pat it dry with paper towels.  Season it with salt and pepper.  Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in the pot and brown the pork, in batches, over medium high heat using 1 more tbsp butter if needed.  Transfer the pork to a plate as it is browned.
     Strain the marinade and deglaze the casserole with the marinade and chicken broth, stirring to scrape up the browned bits.  Return the pork and bacon mixture to the casserole and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a quiet simmer and cook, covered, for 2 hours, or until the pork is very tender.
     Meanwhile, about 20 minuets before the pork is cooked, rinse the rice three times and place it in a medium saucepan with 2 cups cold water, the remaining 1 tbsp butter, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook the rice for 20 minutes, or until it is tender.  Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Finish the stew:
     Chop the chocolate.  Mix the 2 tbsp butter with the flour in a small bowl, blending it well with your fingers, then mix in the reserved chiles.  Whisk the butter mixture into the stew.  Add the chocolate, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes.
     Spoon the rice onto six to eight plates, top with the stew, and garnish with the reserved cilantro leaves.  Serve with warmed tortillas or corn bread. 


  1. Pork Roast: buy one, get one free... I had to go for it... what a deal... it's the American way! Oh well, it should keep well in the freezer.

    The meal was great, but I agree that the chocolate in the mole sauce kind of dwarfed the other flavors of the marinade ingredients. Ann almost decided to skip the rice, but I was glad we did the rice and the tortillas. It made for a good combo - kind of a balance. It tasted good to mix the rice and the pork with the mole sauce and wrap it in the warm tortillas. Hoping for another serving tomorrow... I always like to see how the flavors can change or develop when the dish is heated up and served the next day. My only other comment, is it seemed like a pretty labor-intensive meal for Ann to prepare, but I guess she didn't mind...

  2. Oh, man, that looks fantastic! After being in a country for the last 11 days where pork is mostly unavailable, this is making my mouth water! I may just have to eat pork every day this week to make up for my deprivation. Why did you have to scrape the cilantro off the pork?

  3. Welcome home, Jennevieve! The recipe actually didn't say whether or not to scrape off the cilantro stems. I decided to remove them because I thought they might burn when I was browning the pork and that might affect the dish. I was only about to remove say 80 percent of the stems, and they did burn but I couldn't taste anything burned in the sauce.