My rendition of adobo sauce, a classic of Mexican cooking, came about when Lindy Gullet, second generation owner of Shenandoah Valley’s Noceto Winery in Amador County, California, asked me for a food pairing suggestion to go with Noceto’s Sangiovese di Rosato rose wine. Mildly spicy and deeply flavored adobo sauce, crisp and lively as their rose, fits the bill perfectly.
Though the roast needs to marinate at least overnight before cooking, preferably up to 2 or 3 days, that’s all untended time. The ancho sauce itself is quick-to-make and will keep in the refrigerator for several days or freezes for longer. Use it for marinating pork in particular, but also chicken, game hens, and meaty fish fillets. Ancho chilies are available in Mexican markets, many supermarkets, and online. Guajillo or New Mexico (pasilla) dried chilies can substitute.
Serves 6 to 8
5 ancho chilies
3 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/2- to 4-pound pork shoulder (aka butt) roast, with or without bone
1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, for garnish
Distilled white vinegar and kosher salt for dressing the cilantro
Flour or corn tortillas, for serving
- Pull off the stems and scoop out the seeds of the ancho chilies. Place the chilies and garlic in a small pot, add water barely to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and let simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- To make the adobo sauce, transfer the chilies, garlic, and 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid to a blender or food processor. Add the vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, oregano, and salt and blend until smooth. (It will wind up more smooth with a blender, more chunky with a food processor.
- Place the pork in a large dish and slather the sauce all around it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 48 hours, up to 3 days.
- When ready to cook the roast, remove it from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Transfer the roast to a roasting pan, fat side up, and cook until medium done with just a tinge of pink in the center, 162 F on a meat thermometer, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the roast. Remove from the oven (leave it on) and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes or so for the juices to settle.
- Just before serving, slice the roast. Toss the cilantro with a sprinkle each of vinegar and salt and garnish the sliced pork with it. Heat the tortillas in the still-warm oven and serve right away while the tortillas are still warm.