There are many reasons to visit every corner of Mexico. For me the most important reason is to eat local food. Talking about must-try flavors in the Sinaloa’s cuisine, Chilorio is a very popular pork dish that you can only find in the northwest of Mexico. Its bright red color may remind you of Chorizo, but the flavor is very different. The origins of Chilorio go back hundreds of years, when stewing meat with a chili mixture was the best way to preserve it. In former days it was prepared with wild boar or armadillo.
On the Barrio Bites tour we explore the breakfast delicacies around downtown Mazatlan. Breakfast in Mexico is often protein-based; eggs, beans, cheese or meat. No cereal and milk to be seen! One of the favorite flavors on the tour is ‘Chilorio’. One guest was so inspired after trying it, that he named it ‘Glorious’ chilorio, which stuck with me ever since. A few weeks ago a repeat customer and Flavor Teller ambassador (Hi Sheila McD.!) asked me if I could share the Chilorio recipe online, so she could recreate her flavor-filled experience at home. A promise is a promise: so here it is!
Chilorio is usually available ready-made at the market or in cans at the supermarket. Each vendor has their own secret recipe which is passed on from generation to generation. I will be sharing the recipe featured in Mrs. Cuca Cardenas (the godmother of Sinaloa cuisine) cookbook “Mis recetas de cocina”.
1 ½ kilo (3 lbs.) pork, diced in small cubes
½ cup water
2 tbsp salt, or to taste
2 large pasilla chilies
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp cilantro seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pork lard, only if the meat does not have fat
Place the pork in a cast-iron skillet or heavy pan, add the water and salt, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. While the pork is cooking, remove the foam and prepare the following.
Remove the stem and seeds from the pasilla chilies. Soak in boiling water for 15 minutes and drain. Toast the oregano, cumin and cilantro seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant. Then puree the chilies, spices and garlic in a blender with a cup of water. Set aside until the meat is cooked.
Keep an eye on the pork and wait until the water has evaporated. Then the meat has to fry in its own fat, otherwise add lard. Once the pork cubes are well fried, add the chili mixture and fry until the sauce gets a thick consistency and the pork is tender.
How do you eat chilorio? I love to enjoy it with flour tortillas or on a bread roll or baguette with some avocado, onion and lettuce. You can also prepare it ‘a la mexicana’ with onion, tomato and serrano chili.
Buen Provecho! Enjoy your meal!
(Preparation time: 1 ½ hours)
Maaike Hoekstra has lived in Mexico for over 15 years. She is passionate about Mexican culture and food. Here are the stories and recipes she finds along the way.