Cochito chiapaneco, or Mexican chilli-seasoned pot roasted pork

Food & drink
Cochito chiapaneco, or Mexican chilli-seasoned pot roasted pork

Pork cooked slowly for a very long time in chilli? Sounds like a good idea, right?

Here’s how to do it.

You’ll need some dried chillis to start with – two medium anchos and four medium guajillos.  Both of these varieties are the work horses of the Mexican kitchen.  The ancho has a smokey, mild and almost sweet flavour to it, whilst the guajillo has more in the way of heat.

It’s worth seeking out the correct chillis for this recipe, and most other Mexican cookery, for that matter. Try the good people at the Cool Chile Co. to start with.

Soak the chillis in hot water in a small bowl until they rehydrate and plump up, and then add them to a blender along with 175ml of the soaking water and two bay leaves.

Blend until you have a smooth paste, then add a teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, half of a small onion, a quarter of a teaspoon of allspice, two tablespoons of cider vinegar and a pinch of ground cloves.  Blend again until the paste becomes smooth and thick.  Add a little more water to keep the blades turning, if necessary.

The sauce needs some cooking to take the rawness off the onion and chilli, so heat a large tablespoon of lard in a pan until it starts to smoke, and then add the sauce.  It should splutter indignantly, and you’ll be able to smell the chillis.  Keep the heat moderate and stir constantly for about five minutes until the sauce sears and concentrates.

Season with half a teaspoon of salt.

Chile seasoned Mexican pot roasted pork

Now for the meat.  You’ll need about a 1.5kg of boned pork shoulder, skinned and sliced into thick slabs about four or five centimetres thick.

Lay the meat in a large pan, and tip the sauce over it, using a spoon to slather it around so that every surface of the pork is covered well.  Add 150ml of water, put the lid on the pan and cook in the oven at 170c for at least two and a half hours, basting the meat periodically with the sauce and rendered fat.

When it’s ready, the pork will be tender to the point of falling apart.

Use a pair of tongs to lift the cooked meat out onto a chopping board and then tear and shred it apart into chunks using a pair of forks.  You’ll be left with a pile of steaming hot, richly flavoured tender pork.

Reduce the sauce a little over a high heat, check the seasoning and add more salt if necessary, then pour liberally over the shredded pork.

It seems like there’s a lot of chilli in the sauce, but the long, slow cooking mellows the flavour considerably, and the pork soaks up and distributes the heat effectively.  This is not a punch-in-the-face chilli dish, rather it has a more subtle and interesting flavour, and it doesn’t hurt when you eat it…

This pork is a fantastic building block.  It can be eaten as it is, with rice and maybe a green salad, or used as a filling for tacos.  Cold, it makes an extraordinarly good lunch.

This recipe is from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen.

Bayless isn’t particularly well-known on this side of the pond, but he should be. His knowledge of Mexican food is unparalleled, and his books are a treasure trove of beautiful Mexican recipes.

19 comments… add one
  • This Cochito chiapaneco sounds like my cup of tea. I'll have to check out the Cool Chile Co to get the right chillis. Here the usual choice of chile is red or green – and there may or may not be a heat indicator on the package. I will seek out the delicious sounding anchos and the exotic guajillos. It's not just a meal, it's an education :)

  • Looks great! We'd love for you to share your recipe at!

  • Kita Feb 21, 2011

    This looks delicious.

  • Liz Feb 21, 2011

    This is truly comfort food…looks marvelous!

  • This looks like delicious comfort food! Love your photos too!

  • Loni Feb 22, 2011

    Hi there,

    I'm thinking of trying this recipe in a crock pot.

    What exactly do you mean by "mixed dried herbs"?


  • Becky Feb 22, 2011

    Love this recipe been doing something very similar with a slow cooker .I have a huge bag of ancho and chipolte chillis to get through but after that looking forward to trying some other varieties
    Think I am going to have to get the Rick Bayliss' Book always really liked him on Top Chef.

  • Isabelle Feb 22, 2011

    As far as I'm concerned, any dish that involves slow-cooked pork can't possibly go wrong.

    As it happens, I've got a pork shoulder roast in the freezer that's got this dish written all over it… now I just need to pick up some dried anchos. Guess I know what I'm doing next weekend! :)

    I am a little curious as to what's meant by "mixed dried herbs" as well. I'm guessing that would have to include Mexican oregano, but is there anything else? Epazote? Marjoram? Thyme?

    • rich Feb 22, 2011

      You can get mixed dried herbs in most supermarkets – the composition varies, but they normally have things like oregano, marjoram, thyme, etc, and given the length of time this dish cooks for, it probably doesn't matter too much what's actually in the mix.

      • Isabelle Feb 22, 2011

        Thanks, Rich. Must be a UK thing… the herb mixtures sold in Canadian supermarkets are usually specialised blends (herbes de provence, poultry seasoning, Italian seasoning, etc). Now that I know what to look for, I'm guessing Italian seasoning will probably be a close match.

  • Susan Feb 23, 2011

    Beautiful recipe … a new twist on pulled pork for certain!

  • philippa Feb 25, 2011

    This looks like it could be the answer to my search for a home made version of Leon's Shredded Pork Wrap Thanks very much!

  • Cat Feb 26, 2011

    So glad to have found a fellow Yorkshire blogger on UKFBA. It won't let me join the group right now but I'm a Northerner and I won'r give up. Lovin' the style of your blog. Keep it up for us Yorkies!

    Cat x

  • Wow, I wish I could have been in your kitchen while this was cooking. This seems to be the kind of dish that causes hyperventilation while braising. It sounds delectable. I will definitely be making soon. Many thanks for passing along the recipe as well as the excellent instructions.

  • Su Mar 2, 2011

    This looks very tempting! Who could possibly resist slow cooked pork.
    Fab recipe!!

  • Lin Ann Mar 5, 2011

    This sounds and looks great. Versatile too! I love the addition of radish as a garnish.

  • Kelsey Apr 11, 2011

    Great post and gorgeous photo! Here in Arizona, I can easily get my hands on all ingredients Mexican. I can't wait to make this!

  • eli Oct 11, 2012

    Everyone has there own version I guess when I was living in chiapas I was tought to use achiote paste and wrap it in a banana leaf and slow roast it. It turns out wonderfully it has a smokey flavor that my family loves

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