This was the first dish that I ever made by myself. I made it when I was nine years old, without any supervision. I blended the ingredients in the metate by myself. I think about when I would sit and watch my mother cook. I left Mexico because I wanted to help my parents. My dad worked a lot. So one day, I just decided, I’m going. My mom cried so much when I was leaving. I told her that I was only going to leave for six months. Nobody wanted me to leave, but I had made my decision.Rosa Martinez

An oval bowl filled with braised pork in red chile sauce with a spoon resting on the side and a stack of tortillas and dried peppers on the side.

Braised Pork in Red Chile Sauce

5 / 6 votes
This braised pork in red chile sauce is made by slowly cooking pork butt in a smoky, spicy homemade ancho chile sauce. You’ll want to have plenty of tortillas on hand to soak up that sauce.
David Leite
Servings5 to 6 servings
Calories294 kcal
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time2 hours 45 minutes


  • 5 or 6 dried pulla, negro, or guajillo chiles, seeded
  • 1 dried ancho chile, seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds pork butt, cut into 2-inch [5-cm] pieces
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium (1 cup) onion, diced
  • Corn or flour tortillas and black beans, for serving


  • Have ready a medium bowl filled with very hot water. In a cast-iron skillet or grill over medium-high heat, toast the chiles until nice and smoky, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place the chiles in the bowl of hot water to rehydrate for 5 minutes. Drain the chiles.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: Reserve the chile soaking water and use it in place of the water called for in steps 2 and 6.

  • In a blender, combine the rehydrated chiles with the garlic, cumin, and 1 cup water. Blitz until smooth, then pour the chile paste into a bowl.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: There's no need to clean the blender before using it later for the tomatoes.

  • On the cast-iron skillet or grill used for toasting the chiles, roast the tomatoes, rotating occasionally, until nice and charred in some places, 7 to 10 minutes. Toss the grilled tomatoes into the blender and blitz until smooth.
  • In a Dutch oven or high-sided sauté pan with a lid over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pork, season with the salt, and cook, stirring often, until the meat is browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a plate, leaving behind the fat in the pan.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chile paste. Add the pork and stir to coat.
  • Pour in the pureed tomatoes and 1 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover, turn the heat to low, and braise the pork until tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  • Serve the pork in chile sauce with warm tortillas and black beans.
We Are La Cocina Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 294 kcalCarbohydrates: 6 gProtein: 35 gFat: 14 gSaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 109 mgSodium: 1526 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Caleb Zigas | Leticia Landa. Photo © 2019 Eric Wolfinger. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This braised pork in ancho chile sauce was rich, delicious, and the complexity of the sauce makes it seem more complicated than it is. It’s really quite easy to put together.

I used 6 New Mexico chile peppers as I couldn’t find the recommended pulla, negro, or guajillo chilies at my supermarket. I also used the ancho chile. We ate it with tortillas as recommended. There was lots of sauce that would be delicious with some rice to mix in!

I knew this dish was going to turn out amazing as soon it started its long simmer. My apartment filled with such a unique aroma immediately that I can only imagine how it would just get better over time.

The recipe requires just a handful of ingredients yet the end result is a complex mixture of spiciness, smokiness, and sweetness. The chiles used are obviously critical to the overall flavor, but the key steps of roasting both the chile and tomatoes further deepens the flavor of the sauce. I suggest roasting them as long as possible without burning them to maximize the flavor. While the recipe calls for pork, other proteins can easily be substituted depending on your mood or what you have on hand.

I am a sucker for a good braised recipe and this pork in chile sauce was a pleasant surprise for its ease and deep flavor. I used the guajillo peppers, which lent this a pleasant fruity complex flavor and gentle spice.

I roasted the chiles about 3 minutes a side until they were fragrant; at the end, they started to puff a little bit and the skin softened. When I added water to the chiles, I just used some of the water the chiles had already soaked in because I figured it would be more flavorful. The tomato chile sauce with the base of the cooked onions was oh-so-nice and thick. I served this in corn tortilla shells with some cheese on top and black beans on the side.

Yes, yes, yes! This is an excellent recipe. It is easy and produces a redolent pork dish with just enough pop. Perfect winter comfort food. My husband went directly to seconds, as a result I am sure this braised pork in red chile sauce is Testers Choice material.

When I read this recipe, I thought of my daughter’s grandmother who is an expert at producing simple yet flavorful chilies. She tried to teach me her method but it was difficult for me to have the perfect blend of taste and texture. No such challenge here, I produced a tasty stew that would make her proud. The recipe delivers pork which melts on the spoon and sauce screaming to be sopped up with multiple tortillas. Paired with black beans this is a true comfort food.

The recipe instructions are easy to follow. My only modifications were to the sauté times for steps 4 and 5. I have fairly powerful burners, both the pork and the onions were ready at the 5 minute mark. I would modify those instructions to read 5-10 minutes for the pork and 5-8 minutes for the onions.

The variety of chiles available could cause a cook’s head to explode so this article might help.

It is helpful to know what you’re looking for, in order to avoid testers/family member’s heads bursting into flames because the dish is too hot. That was not the case here, but based on my experience mild chiles often have that one in ten which turns the taste buds into a roman candle.

One other observation, I purchased the Negro Chiles from Vallarta, a local Latino Market. These were their own bulk chiles. I noticed that the quality was superior to that of another widely distributed brand of chiles. If you have the option, check out local markets for a fresher product.

The chili was ready after 1 hour and forty-five minutes. I left it on a little longer while I waited for my black beans to finish in the pressure cooker. I served it with black beans and corn tortillas and I garnished with sour cream, pico de gallo, and guacamole.

The recipe yielded sufficient servings for leftovers. I’m guessing this will be even better tomorrow.

I used only jalapeño chiles and toasting them took me only a minute as the pan was hot. I served it with rice and it was enough for 5 servings.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for this one!

    I’ve lived in SoCal for nearly 50 years. I’ve eaten and loved *tons* of Mexican food. I’ve cooked tons of Mexican food. But I’ve been too intimidated to cook with dried chiles until this recipe came along.

    We loved it. I found it easy and interesting to make. I’ll never buy enchilada sauce again!

    Because my husband and I are all about flavor and not so much about the heat in the future I’ll open the pods and carefully remove the ribs before proceeding. That way I can use lots more of the chiles.

    And I had a ton of sauce left over after we’d enjoyed the pork. I’m saving it to add interest to some leftover chicken in the fridge but I can imagine simmering all kinds of things in it. And I bet it will add flavor to soups and beans as well. Let there be posole!

    1. Thanks, Rainey! I’m so pleased that this was such a hit at your house. Can’t wait to hear what you make with the leftover sauce.

      1. 5 stars
        When I made this again last week I tripled the batch. I wanted to be sure we had enough for leftovers. I wanted to be sure I could send the kids home with some of their own leftovers.

        Happily, I still had some to turn into posole for our third go around for dinner tonight. Doing it is too easy. I added chicken stock and canned hominy. The pork is already falling-apart-tender. We’re having it over shredded cabbage and sliced radishes.

        This recipe is too good to be this easy and this versatile! If there were a Nobel Prize for cooking this would be my nomination. Hands down and even after 50+ years of cooking!

        1. Wow, Rainey! Definitely the comment of the day. Thank you so much. I always love hearing about your cooking adventures.