I've been making big batches of this Easy Pork in Adobo Sauce over the past month!
When you build the Adobo Sauce from scratch you can really load it up with flavor and it makes for some delicious, all-purpose shredded pork.
You can use the tasty pork for tacos, burritos, tostadas, but for me lately it's crispy, fiery tortas 🙂
How to Make Pork in Adobo Sauce
When you coat the pork with Adobo Sauce it is absolutely loaded with flavor -- and it's designed to be much quicker than a typical low-n-slow pork recipe.
Pork shoulder typically prefers a long cook at low temperatures. That's what I do in the Awesome Carnitas recipe and it's a great option to keep in mind when you have more time on your hands.
But this version is designed for days when you don't want to spend an afternoon in the kitchen. A quick hour-long simmer for the pork will do the job just fine knowing there's a batch of Adobo Sauce waiting in the wings.
I started with 2 lbs. pork shoulder for this batch, chopped it up into chunks, then covered with cold water.
Add salt along with anything else you want to include for the simmer. I used 1/2 onion for this batch.
Bring it to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 60 minutes or so. (I use low on my stove to simmer when covered.)
As the pork cooks you can build the Adobo Sauce.
Adobo Sauce is a concentrated chile-garlic mixture that works great in a number of dishes. You can use it as a marinade or coating for meats, or you can liquefy it to make a sauce.
The core of the flavor comes from dried chiles. I'm using 5 Anchos and 3 Guajillos for this batch, but there is leeway on the dried chiles so don't sweat it if you don't have Guajillos.
After de-stemming and de-seeding I usually roast the chile pieces for 1-2 minutes in the oven (400F).
This blast of heat wakes them up and really brings out some extra flavor so please don't skip this step! Alternatively, you can flash roast them in a skillet over medium-high heat for 15-30 seconds. How To Roast Dried Chiles.
Once the chiles are roasted, add them to a bowl and cover with the hottest tap water you've got. This will re-hydrate them and help their flavor infuse into the sauce once we grind 'em up.
As the chiles reconstitute you can gather the other ingredients and add them to a blender:
4 peeled garlic cloves
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano What is Mexican oregano?
1/4 teaspoon cumin (optional)
2 chipotles in adobo (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons water, or stock
You can consider the chipotles optional. They add plenty of heat, but if you want a milder batch you can just use the Anchos and Guajillos. Tips on working with chipotles.
The pork needs about an hour to cook, so I usually start to finish up the Adobo Sauce around then.
Drain the reconstituted chiles and add them to the blender. Note: if you like the flavor of the chiles' soaking liquid you can save some of it to build the adobo sauce. I think it tastes bitter so I don't use it.
Combine well. You'll probably need to add additional splashes of liquid to get the Adobo Sauce to combine. You can use splashes of water, or the chiles' soaking liquid, or the pork boiling liquid (along with some fat!).
I usually add just enough liquid to get it to combine into a thick, paste-like substance.
Cook this Adobo Sauce in some oil (or lard!) over medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly.
Add 1/2 cup liquid to thin it out (I used the pork boiling liquid) and bring it up to temp. I usually give it a taste at this point. I added another pinch of salt and Mexican oregano to this batch.
Remove the pork from the simmering pot and shred it using two forks.
Add the shredded pork to the Adobo mixture.
Combine well, bring it up to temp, and take a final taste.
Hello flavorbomb shredded pork!
Sure, you can eat it straight from the pan 🙂
But it can be used in so many other tasty ways. Here are my defaults:
Tortas! Pickled onions, Habanero slices, cheese, lime mayo...all on a crispy roll with your awesome pork mixture. I usually smoosh these panini-style in a skillet over medium heat, using a skillet or pyrex dish to press down on them. So good!
Tacos! Add cheese and the pork mixture to a corn tortilla in a skillet over medium heat. Fold onto itself, smoosh with a spatula and cook until brown spots are forming on the tortilla and the cheese is melted. A quick batch of Salsa de Aguacate is the perfect complement to these tacos.
Burritos! White rice, cheese, pork, and freshly chopped Pico de Gallo in a flour tortilla and crisped up in a dry skillet over medium heat. Easy and fast.
Tostadas! Add a thin layer of refried beans to a tostada and load it with pork, Queso Fresco, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Yum 🙂
Okay, I hope this Easy Pork in Adobo Sauce brings lots of good meals to your home kitchen! It's such an easy technique and I think you'll get lots of mileage out of it.
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Easy Pork with Adobo Sauce
- 2 lbs. pork shoulder
- 5 Ancho dried chiles
- 2-3 Guajillo dried chiles (or New Mexican)
- 2 chipotles in adobo (optional)
- 4 peeled garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used white vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons stock, or water
- olive oil
- Chop up the pork shoulder into 1-2" chunks. Add it to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add salt and any other aromatics you'd like to use (I used 1/2 onion for this batch). Bring it up to a boil, skim off and discard any foam, then lower heat to simmer, cover, and let cook for an hour or so. Note: I use low on my stove to simmer when covered.
- For the Adobo Sauce, start by wiping off any dusty crevasses on the dried chiles, then de-stem and de-seed them. Roast the chiles pieces in the oven (400F) for 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, you can flash roast them on a skillet over medium-high heat for 15-30 seconds per side.
- Add the roasted chile pieces to a mixing bowl and cover them with the hottest tap water you've got. Let the chiles reconstitute for a half hour or until you need them. If they float to the surface you can use a small bowl or plate to keep them submerged.
- The pork will be ready after cooking for an hour -- when it's close I start to build the Adobo Sauce. Drain the chiles and add them to a blender along with the remaining Adobo Sauce ingredients: 2 chipotles in adobo (optional), 4 peeled garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, 1/4 teaspoon cumin (optional), 1/2 teaspoon salt, freshly cracked black pepper, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons stock or water (or the pork boiling liquid). Combine well. You may need to add additional splashes of liquid to get it to combine -- I added another few tablespoons of the pork boiling liquid until it combined into a thick, paste-like substance.
- Preheat a glug of oil (or lard) in a skillet over medium heat. Add the adobo sauce and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Add 1/2 cup liquid and combine well -- you can use stock, water, or the pork boiling liquid.
- Shred the cooked pork using two forks and add it to the adobo mixture. Combine well and bring it up to temp. Feel free to add splashes of liquid if you think it needs it to combine. Salt to taste.
- Serve pork mixture immediately. Store leftovers in the fridge where it will keep for a few days.
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I’m in the UK but I have spent a lot of time in Mexico and love your recipes for helping me relive those happy times (including our honeymoon in Cozumel!). I tried this one with imported dried Anchos and Guajillos and using dried Morita as we don’t have chipotles in adobo here.
I was really careful not to burn the chiles so only had them in the oven for about 50 secs, and I didn’t use any of the soaking water in the dish (though I didn’t dry the soaked chiles, so there would have been a little bit of water on them. However the adobo tasted really bitter when I tasted it after cooking the paste and adding the liquid. I do generally prefer savoury flavours to sweet, but this was really unpalatable. I rescued it with 1.5 tablespoons of muscovado sugar, a large glug of olive oil and two tablespoons of tomato purée. Why do you think that bitterness happened? Is the sauce supposed to have a bitter aftertaste? I thought I might try it again without heating the chiles at all, in case I did scorch them without realising, but you say that the flavour is really not deep enough without that step.
Hey Ashleigh, glad to hear you've spent time in Cozumel and have brought back some good eats to the UK!
I know exactly what you mean. Sounds like you did everything right and still got a bitter, unpalatable flavor. This can happen for a few reasons:
Older dried chiles can become more bitter over time. Be sure to use squishy, pliable dried chiles. If they are hard and brittle they are probably past their prime.
Overheating them will turn them bitter, but it sounds like this wasn't the issue if you only had them in the oven for 50 seconds.
Most importantly, dried chiles have an inherent astringency and everyone's palate reacts different to it. I am quite averse to it, so I usually add in some sweetness or acidity when using a boatload of dried chiles. For this dish I think it was the sweetness/tang from the chipotles and the fatty pork that made it taste complete to me.
I am more sensitive to that bitterness than most people, but if your palate is even farther along that spectrum then here are a couple more things to keep in mind:
I don't have proof, but I've had batches of brittle Moritas that I thought were unusually bitter. I'm not sure if they age poorly compared to other chiles, but if you try this recipe again then I would consider omitting them or using chipotles in adobo if you come across some. The chipotles in adobo have some inherent sweetness and tang built into them that can pair well with Anchos/Guajilos.
I've found that the sweetness of roasted tomatoes acts as the perfect counterpart to dried chiles, at least for my palate. I feel like it allows the dried chiles to contribute their full flavor without the astringency. You could add 1-2 roasted plum tomatoes to see if that solves the bitterness for you. A good example of this is the Ancho Chicken Enchiladas -- that dish combines roasted tomatoes with Ancho chiles to make the enchilada sauce and it's a good litmus test to see where your palate lies on the bitterness spectrum.
Okay, I hope that helps! I was super annoyed with this when I first starting cooking Mexican and always felt like I was doing something wrong when using dried chiles, but once I found the sweet spot for my palate I was able to extract all their goodness without feeling bitter about them 🙂
Feel free to get in touch with any other questions. Cheers.
What a helpful and comprehensive answer, thank you. You’re right, the Morita did seem quite hard compared to the Anchos and Guajillos and it didn’t really get much softer after soaking either. It was a brand new pack from an online seller who specialises in imported Mexican ingredients but maybe they were just a bad batch. I’ve now seen Chipotles in Adobo on Amazon so maybe I’ll order some and see how it goes. The tip about the tomatoes is good too (I think that the tomato purée I added to the pork made all the difference). I’ll give that chicken dish a go!
You're welcome Ashleigh, let me know how it goes! Cheers.
Do you have to use pork shoulder?
I have never bought it before and am concerned about the fat.
Thanks for advice,
Hey Moira! Feel free to use your preferred cut. The Adobo Sauce is providing the bulk of the flavor so I think that makes the cut of meat and cooking style less crucial. Cheers.
I love Mexican Please!!! I've made a few of the recipes and they are easy to understand and easy to make and oh so good!!!!
Thank you for your emails.
So glad you are finding some keepers here 🙂
This sounds great. A friend, Lorenzo, has given me two rabbits. They were young, tender rabbits that he raised himself. Do you think this recipe would work with rabbit? Or, do you have any other recipes that you think would work well with rabbit?
Hey Joe! Hmmm I have to admit that I never cook with rabbit so can't say for sure. In general though the Adobo Sauce will work with a wide range of meat and not just pork. Cheers.