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Similar to carnitas, chilorio is a type of fried, pulled pork cooked in chili sauce. Originating in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, this dish is at least 300 years old and was first created as a way to preserve meat. In modern times, it is often used as filling for enchiladas or tacos. It can also be served as a main course dish, normally with a side of refried beans, salsa, or guacamole.
Chilorio normally uses boneless pork loin or shoulder for its meat. White wine and vinegar or vegetable broth are usually used to simmer the pork. A mixture of orange juice and water may be used as well. Bacon fat or lard is also needed to fry the meat or to include in the sauce, but vegetable oil may be substituted. The lard provides additional flavoring to the dish, however, so while vegetable oil may be the healthier choice, this benefit occurs at the cost of some flavor.
The chili sauce consists of fresh or dried chilies, usually ancho, chipotle, or a combination. Various spices and seasonings, including cumin, oregano, garlic, and onion, are included as well. Parsley, salt, and black pepper may also be added. Occasionally, cider or white vinegar may be included in the sauce.
To make chilorio, the pork is cut into pieces and simmered in liquid for about two hours. The chilies are normally soaked in water, or a small portion of the simmering broth, near the end of the cooking process. Once soaked, the chilies are removed, seeded, and chopped. Then they are placed in a blender with some of their soaking liquid and the seasonings, and the mixture is pureed. The onions may first be fried in lard but are often included raw.
Once complete, the chili paste is set aside and the pork is removed from its simmering liquid and allowed to cool. When the meat has cooled sufficiently, it can be shredded or pulled apart with forks or hands. Afterward, it is fried in lard and drained on a paper towel. The fried pork is combined with the chili sauce, and the mixture is heated a final time before the chilorio is complete.
Alternatively, the chili sauce, rather than the pork, may be cooked in the oil or lard. The meat, along with a little broth, is then added and mixed with the sauce. Salt is often added to taste at the end of the cooking process.
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