Main image
1st June
written by Steph

Adobo Pork

Adobo pork with guacamole salad and corn tortillas

Since moving to Nashville, one of the food areas where my cooking has really expanded is without a doubt, Mexican. Before I came down here, my default cooking tended to be more Asian inspired (stir-frys and the like), but with the abundance of Mexican ingredients down here, I’ve definitely shifted toward foods that are South of the border. I’m sure the fact that Nashville really doesn’t have any good Chinese food (seriously!) is a contributing factor (whereas Toronto has a dearth of Mexican food… so weird!). There are plenty of Mexican places where Tony & I can eat out, but I’ve actually found it really rewarding to try my hand at creating Mexican dishes at home.

A couple of weeks ago we attended a celebratory party for a girl in my lab who had successfully defended her dissertation earlier that day. One of her advisors brought this amazing pork, that was both spicy and sweet, smoky and unctuous. Tony fell madly in love, and ever since then I’ve been trying to get my hands on the recipe. I finally got it last week and decided to try it myself. But here’s a fair warning: once you’ve had pork this way, you may never want to eat it any other way ever again… Ingredients
  • 1.5 - 2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 3-4 chipotle (canned, in adobo sauce)
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes; charred in the oven for about 30 minutes until skin is easy to remove
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, roasted peel on in a hot pan until blackened in spots, then peeled
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2C raisins
  • 1/2C slivered or chopped almonds; toasted in a pan
  • oil
  • salt
  1. Prepare the pork. I used a crockpot for mine - I simply placed the pork shoulder along with the 2 chopped garlic cloves and ½ of the diced onion into the crock pot, then added about 2 cups of water and cooked the shoulder on low heat for about 8 hours until it was meltingly tender and falling off the bone. Alternatively, you can place your meat in a large pot and pour in salted water until it is just covered.  Then bring it to a boil, skim off any gray foam, and then simmer covered on medium-low heat for about 2 hours. In either case, once the meat is cooked and cooled, shred it.
  2. Prepare the Tomato-chipotle sauce: Place the chipotle peppers, peeled tomatoes and peeled whole garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is a relatively fine puree (don’t get rid of all the chunks!).  Then heat 2 tbsp of mild oil in a pan and add the puree.  Let it sizzle and sear and thicken for about 15 minutes.  Add some salt to taste.
  3. Put it all together: In a large separate pot (I used my wok), heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add in the remaining diced onion and let it cook for a few minutes. Then add your shredded pork and let it caramelize slightly as it fries. Add in your cinnamon, pepper, clove, raisins and almonds. Let the mixture get nice and aromatic, then add in your tomato-chipotle sauce, making sure any bits on the bottom of the pan get mixed in to the sauce.  Add salt to taste, then serve on warm corn or flour tortillas.


This was SO good.  Really savory and rich and lovely.  Initially I thought the recipe was going to be really daunting and difficult to pull of because the flavors are so complex (surely something so good couldn’t be easy!), but I was wrong.  As you can see, the recipe is easily broken down into three manageable parts, and apart from cooking the pork shoulder, it really only requires about 25 minutes of active cooking time.  Once you get all your prep done.  And did I mention how SCRUMPTIOUS this dish is?  We were half tempted to just eat it out of the pan like little savages… but we managed to plate it up along side an avocado-corn-red onion salad, which was a nice accoutrement (and dead simple to make: dice your avocado and red onion, mix together along with some canned corn. Sprinkle in some fresh cilantro, a little salt and some lime juice. Voila!).

Guacamole salad

If you think Mexican food requires you to rely on prepacked seasoning mixes from the “International Food Aisle” at your grocery store, please consider trying this recipe. It will rock your world. I later found out that this is actually a Rick Bayless recipe (i.e., he who won the first season of Top Chef Masters), so it’s little wonder it’s so delicious.  Now Tony and I are really ruing the fact we didn’t eat at either of his restaurants in Chicago!  At least I have this dish to console me until we have the chance to make it back there! I definitely intend to make it for company some time in the future, but this could easily be a weeknight meal provided you’ve got a crock pot on hand (alternatively, I suppose you could precook your pork the night before). If you’re not a pork eater (your loss!), you could easily sub in slow-cooked chicken or even beef brisket, I imagine. But really, you just owe it to yourself to give this a whirl and redefine your concept of Mexican cuisine.


  1. 06/01/2010

    Very nice recipe! Both the main dish and the side look wonderful and like something that is easy enough for me to do! I am so glad that you shared this with us, it might perk up my kitchen routine a bit!

  2. 06/02/2010

    Oh drool…

    This one is definitely being saved and added to the ‘to be cooked when I have my own kitchen’ list.

  3. 06/02/2010

    This looks delish! I recently did pulled pork in the crock pot with a Cook’s Country recipe that recommended putting in a ham hock, too, then shredding them together. I made a SC mustard BBQ sauce for it, and got raves.

  4. 06/02/2010

    @ zibilee: I was really worried that this would be an involved dish, but it wound up being REALLY easy to pull off. It involves some prep work, but it’s by now means difficult. And it’s SO DELICIOUS!
    @ Laura: If you have a hard time finding chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, let me know and I’ll send you a care package! 😉 And I can’t wait for my first meal chez L’Ell!
    @ Girl Detective: Oooh, your pork recipe sounds wonderfully low country. Tony is a huge fan of mustard BBQ sauces, so I may have to try something similar!

  5. mee

    This recipe sounds to die for. But there are a couple of foreign ingredients there that I’m not sure I can find here, namely: the chipotle in adobo sauce and cilantro. Well, for the pork, really just the chipotle. Mmm I should do me some hunting. I should be able to find it somewhere here!

  6. 06/03/2010

    @ mee: I’m not sure how easily chipotle in adobo can be found in Australia, but I’m sure you’ll find cilantro in abundance, since it does get used in other cuisines (like vietnamese and thai)! Hopefully you can find these ingredients and give it a go!

  7. 06/07/2010

    Steph, I promise you I’ll do this recipe very soon. This month for sure. Love Mexican, love anything that has chipotle. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Btw, have you tried Filipino adobo? 🙂

    We haven’t finished watching Top Chef Masters but oh my they are soooo goooood. Is there a second season? Top Chef Canada is auditioning at the moment; hubby wants to join but unfortunately he has to be willing to leave his job for at least 6 weeks, and that he cannot do. He’s been waiting for Top Chef to come here since the first season but he’s the breadwinner so can’t take that long a break and leave us without. Poor him.

    Where else would you recommend to eat in Chicago? We might go there soon, only for one day though, just pass by..

  8. 06/08/2010

    @ claire: I have never tried Filipino adobo! In fact, I haven’t had very much Filipino food at all!

    And yes, there is currently a second season of TCM that is airing right now! I’m not enjoying it quite as much as the first season, but it is still great. And that would have been so awesome if your husband could have auditioned for TCC, but I understand why it’s not feasible. Still, lucky you having a man who can cook like that!

    Other Chicago eats: Le Coloniale, which is a delicious French Vietnamese place! Also, if you want food with a view, there’s always the Hancock tower, which is pretty reasonable for lunch and has amazing Chicago skyline views while you eat! Also, I love China Town, but it’s not as good as Toronto China Town, so I’d skip that in your case!

  9. 08/24/2010

    Steph, thanks for the tips.. I remember Tony posting about the hotdogs in Chicago in comparison to TO so maybe we’ll skip those as well. We made reservations at Frontera Grill but apparently they’re booked on the day we’re looking to, but they said to just walk in. I’ll eat Rick Bayless (food) for you. 😀

  10. 08/24/2010

    @ claire: So jealous! Please be sure to report back!

  11. 08/25/2010

    Yes, ma’am! 😀

  12. 08/27/2010

    @ claire: Good! I can’t wait! My mouth is already salivating in expectation!

Leave a Reply