Ancho-Embraced Pork with Tomatillos

This image courtesy of Colin Ericcson

I love the flavors in this simple but sumptuous stew. Make more than you think you’ll need - requests for seconds are the norm.


Cooking MethodSlow Cooking


Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Lactose-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free

EquipmentCrock Pot


Taste and TextureMeaty, Savory


  • Medium to large (3½ to 8 quart) slow cooker
  • Blender
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter or pure lard, divided 30 mL
  • 2 lb trimmed pork shoulder or blade (butt), cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes, and patted dry 1 kg
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced on the vertical
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin 10 mL
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican, crumbled 10 mL
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp each sea salt and cracked black peppercorns 2 mL
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar 30 mL
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatillos, drained and coarsely chopped (see Notes)
  • 2 cups chicken stock 500 mL
  • 2 to 3 dried ancho chiles (see Notes)
  • 2 cups boiling water 500 mL
  • ½ cup packed cilantro leaves (see Notes) 125 mL


  1. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the butter over medium-high heat. Add pork, in batches, and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware as completed.

  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining tbsp (15 mL) of butter to pan. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, sea salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add vinegar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Add tomatillos and stir well.

  3. Transfer to stoneware. Add chicken stock and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until pork is very tender.

  4. About 1 hour before recipe has finished cooking, in a heatproof bowl, soak dried chiles in boiling water for 30 minutes, weighing down with a cup to ensure they remain submerged. Drain, discarding soaking liquid and stems, and chop coarsely. Transfer to a blender along with cilantro. Scoop out ½ cup (125 mL) of the cooking broth from the pork and add to blender. Puree. Stir pureed mixture into stoneware. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes, until flavors meld.


  1. If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (2½ to 3½ quart) slow cooker.

  2. Many butchers sell cut-up pork stewing meat, which is fine to use in this recipe.

  3. If you prefer, substitute 4 cups (1 L) fresh husked tomatillos for the canned. Place in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer just until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, let cool and then chop coarsely.

  4. Although ancho chiles are among the mildest chile peppers, 3 chiles produces a zesty dish. If you’re heat averse, reduce the quantity to 2.

  5. If you like the taste of cilantro, chop some stems and substitute them for an equal quantity of the leaves called for.

  6. Make Ahead: Complete Step 2. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, complete the recipe.


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