Every time I go to a Mexican restaurant, I reminisce about a prawn dish I had at a restaurant in the Bay Area more than a decade ago. The sauce was dark, rich and spicy. I didn’t know at the time that I would be moving away from the area and never finding that flavor again (I’ve gone back to the same restaurant a few times on my trips back home, but it’s not the same), until this recipe. But before I get to that, I should tell you that when the recipe calls for chiles or Mexican chocolate, you should go to a Mexican grocery store, one that has a prepared food counter is a plus, but one with fresh tortillas is a must. These stores have the hard to find mexican ingredients or can help you find a good alternatives, for example, I was looking for dried New Mexico chiles and I learned that California chiles were the same things… who knew?
There’s some kind of magic thing that happens, when you blend, toasted chiles, toasted nuts, raisins, spices and mexican chocolate and adding more or less of each of those ingredients changes the flavor as well. I can say that I’ve found something close to the sauce but I will keep on tweaking this recipe until it’s exactly as I remember it.
Dried New Mexico or California and Guajillo chiles – remove stems and seeds and toast in a hot skillet, toast peanuts and almonds
Trim most of the fat, and cut pork shoulder/pork butt into bite size pieces season with salt and pepper. In a hot pot, working in batches, brown pork on all sides.
In a blender, add toasted chiles and nuts, Mexican chocolate, spices, raisins, garlic, onion and hot water (see note) to cover and blend until a smooth puree forms. Add puree to the browned pork in the pot and simmer with the lid partially on, for 1-2 hours. The meat should be tender and the sauce rich. Add hot water or broth to thin the sauce if too thick. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: When adding hot liquids to a blender, take the hole cover out of the top of the blender and use a folded towel to cover the hole, that way you don’t have a volcano erupt in your kitchen.
Serve pork in red chile sauce with black beans and fresh tortillas.