Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos

This menu was one of firsts for me.  Along with pickled onions and experimenting with salsas, I had never prepared pork shoulder for tacos.  I was anxious to put this to the taste test.  The flavor was fantastic!

The quest for just the right dried chiles sent me to the Vallarta Market.  I wish I had taken a camera because I found myself facing a huge wall of dried chiles and spices!  I used ancho chiles and japones, dried red peppers, because I could not find chiles de arbol.  The clerk recommended a guajillo chile in place of the chiles de arbol that I could not find, but I wanted a little hit so opted for the japones.  I must admit it was perfect.  If you are curious about the various dried chiles, look here.  The Cook's Thesaurus is a good resource.

Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos
Bon Appetit, May 2011

Yield:  8 servings (2-3 tacos per person)

4 large dried ancho chiles (about 3/4 ounce), stemmed, seeded
2 large dried chiles de árbol or japones chiles, stemmed, seeded
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 5-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 12-ounce bottle Negro Modelo or other dark beer
24 (or more) 6" corn tortillas
4 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
Chopped fresh cilanto

Place chiles in a medium bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover, and set a small plate or bowl on chiles to keep submerged. Let soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain chiles, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chiles, sugar, lime juice, and 1/4 cup reserved soaking liquid in a blender. Purée chile mixture, adding more soaking liquid as needed to form a smooth paste. Season pork shoulder generously with salt and spread paste over pork. (Can be prepared to this point 1-2 days ahead.  Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, coriander, cumin, and allspice. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add beer; bring to a boil. Add pork to pot; cover and transfer to oven.

Braise pork, basting occasionally with pan juices, until very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.)

Transfer pork to a large platter. Let cool slightly. Pour pan juice mixture over pork; cover and keep warm. (Alternatively, shred the pork with 2 forks and pour pan juice mixture over pork.)

Meanwhile, working in batches, cook tortillas in a large heavy skillet over low heat until toasted, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a large sheet of foil; wrap to keep warm.

Serve pork with tortillas, radishes, both salsas, pickled onions, and chopped cilantro, encouraging guests to fill and garnish tacos as desired.


These were the best tacos I have ever made.  I am so glad that I decided to make the pork!!  And, the salsas!  The Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa and Pickled Onions were wonderful addition!

I am participating in Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum and Fat Camp Friday at Mangoes and Chutney hosted by Miranda.


  1. Looks delicious Kathy and I think we have something Mexican coming up soon.

  2. Another festive..summery looking post~
    Good job!

  3. This looks wonderful!

  4. A colorful and delicious dish!

    I will follow your link as I have little knowledge of the various chiles.

  5. I love chile peppers and spicy food! This look really delicious. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  6. One of my favorite dishes at our favorite Mexican restaurants are the chili verde pork tacos. If I could make them at home I'd be a very happy woman. This might be the recipe!

  7. Yum! I think these tacos look amazing. Bookmarked!

  8. This looks so great and the salsa and onions are the perfect things to go with the tacos. Your photos are absolutely mouthwatering. Oh, no, too late to be craving Mexican food!

  9. Wow, this looks so good! Thanks for sharing!

  10. My hubby smokes pork shoulder and we've had it in quesadillas & tacos, but your chiles & seasoning additions look & sound mouth watering! I would love to try the pickled onions!

  11. Those tacos look so good--I'm getting hungry just looking at them! :)

  12. This looks so good. I love spicy food and it looks spicy. We have rattlesnakes too and anything is worth a try for me. I haven't seen any in the yard so maybe the moth balls work...Christine

  13. Honestly... I just finished breakfast and I'm hungry again looking at your tacos! I'm going to have to give that recipe a go! Thank you!

    Have a great weekend!

  14. Oh my, those salsas look awesome. Thanks for linking this up to Fat Camp Friday, hope to see you next week!

  15. This is just my kind of food. I will definitely be making it. Your pictures are "picture perfect".


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