Pork chile colorado, also known as chili colorado or pork asado, is a perfect hearty Mexican comfort food, well known for its brilliant red chile flavored sauce.
Like many Mexican recipes, you combine it with other things to make the meal. My favorite is adding this pork chile colorado to a large flour tortilla with rice, beans and cheese for a burrito. Fry it, for a chimichanga.
You can eat chile colorado in a bowl like a soup or stew. You can use it for nachos, tacos and even tamales.
- What Does Chile Colorado Mean?
- What is Achiote?
- California Chiles vs. New Mexico Chiles
- What is West Texas Pork Asado?
What Does Chile Colorado Mean?
The word “Colorado” in this dish doesn’t have anything to do with the State of Colorado in the United States. Colorado literally means “colored red”. It is given to this dish because of its very distinctive red color. It really IS the brilliant dark red shown in the photos here.
Colorado has nothing to do with the United States at all. This dish is traditional from the northern part of Mexico.
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What Type of Roast Do You Use?
Many times, I’ve seen this made with beef roast. Because pork is less expensive, I usually use pork roast instead.
As far as pork goes, pork shoulder works well as a juicy cut. I can’t usually find them small enough for out two-person family so mom usually buys pork loin roast. You can get them around two pounds which is perfect.
I look forward to trying it with beef another time. I may try this with venison later as well. Since this is made in the slow cooker, just about any cut of roast is going to be tender for you.
Spice Blend for Searing
For this dish, you will need all the typical spices which I use all the time: salt, cumin, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder.
The only thing I’ve added, that I don’t usually add, is a little bit of achiote powder.
These spices are mixed together to make a blend. Add them to the raw pork and then sear the meat in a skillet. It will help retain the flavor and color throughout the cooking process.
What is Achiote?
Achiote is a strong seasoning, made from annatto seed. It is a deep reddish brown and, when used sparingly, can be used primarily for coloring.
It has a little bit of a smoky flavoring which reminds me of smoked paprika. I’ve used it in replace of paprika when I make my own chorizo with this recipe.
Using the achiote is completely optional for this dish since I’ve used it primarily for coloring. Since it’s very strong, use care not to use too much unless you are familiar with the taste.
Read more about achiote at Chili Pepper Madness.
Dried Mexican Chiles
Once you get the spices out of the way, there aren’t many ingredients. For more authentic results, use dried chiles for the braising sauce.
Braising is a method of first searing the meat then slow cooking in a liquid or sauce.
California Chiles vs. New Mexico Chiles
My favorite dried Mexican chiles are California chiles. These are the dried versions of Anaheim peppers that were grown in California. Sometimes they’re also called the same thing: Anaheim chiles, but they are clearly the dried version.
You can also find New Mexico chiles. These are the same chile but grown in New Mexico. It seems a mystery, but the ones from New Mexico are a little more spicy than the ones grown in California.
The only explanation is the differences in weather and soil. You can use either chile.
You can also use Guajillo chiles instead. They look almost exactly the same but they’re a slightly spicier chile.
I’ve used an ancho chile which is the dried version of a poblano. Poblano chiles aren’t spicy. Maybe a step up over a bell pepper. It will add more depth of flavor.
You could also add Pasilla or even Chipotle chiles.
Chiles de Arbol
I’ve also used a few chile de arbol. Chile de arbol are quite spicy. Two or three certainly won’t affect the heat too much. The heat will be there and you can feel it but it’s not over the top.
If you prefer more heat, you have some options. Using Guajillo chiles will give you the same necessary red color but it will increase the heat.
Adding more chiles de arbol will increase the spice but be careful with this one. It’s definitely fairly spicy.
Three of these small chiles didn’t really affect me much. Feel free to experiment by adding additional ground spices, if you like, once everything is prepared.
Instead of chile de arbol, you may also think about using pequin chiles. I’m a lightweight when it comes to spicy chiles but, if you’re familiar with them, you can very easily spice this up to your desired level of heat.
To learn more about how much spicy heat is in each chile pepper, view the Scoville Heat Scale which lists several different peppers used here.
Is The Flavor of Red Chiles Too Strong For You?
Because this dish is made with only a red chile base, it may be a little strong for you. I prefer to eat it in a burrito because everything together complements it perfectly.
Mixing the meat with the rice and beans, then scraping it up with a folded tortilla? Perfection!
You can easily turn this into a guisado (stew) by adding tomato, chopped potatoes and carrots, for instance. It can be eaten by itself or turn it into something new. It’s completely up to you how you use it in your meals. That’s the beauty of Mexican cooking.
What is West Texas Pork Asado?
This dish can also be called pork asado in parts of west Texas. Since my mom was born in west Texas, I thought I should mention it.
West Texas Asado is made just like this except using primarily Ancho Chiles instead of deep red chiles. This makes the result more of a dark brown. You can easily substitute any chiles in this recipe, including Ancho.
Reconstituting the Chiles
When you are using dried Mexican chiles, you will usually want to reconstitute them.
Once you’ve removed the stems and seeds, cover them with water and cook everything on the stove top for about 15 minutes.
This will make the chiles, onion and garlic soft enough to run through a blender to make the sauce.
Before putting the pork in the crock pot, sear it first to seal in the juices.
Slow cooking the pork in the delicious red chile sauce will make it moist and fork tender.
More Mexican food recipes
If you like Mexican food, I have several Mexican food recipes or choose one of these favorites.
- Fresh Pico de Gallo from Scratch
- Chicken Molé Tacos with Doña Maria Sauce
- Chipotle Barbacoa Beef with Homemade Adobo
- Traditional Homemade Pork Tamales
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For more information, be sure to check the recipe details in the attached 24Bite® post.
- Electric Blender
- 6 quart Crock Pot (slow cooker)
- 1 Onion
- 6 Garlic Cloves
- 9 Dried Chiles, like Anaheim, California or Guajillo
- 3 Chile de Arbol
- 1 Ancho Chile
- 2 tablespoons Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Achiote, (optional)
- 2 pounds Pork Loin Roast, like Tyson Pork Loin Ribeye Roast
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 cups Beef Broth
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Quarter onion. Peel garlic cloves. Stem, seed and rinse all dried chiles. Place all in a medium sauce pan with enough water to cover.
- Place pan on medium high heat and bring to a boil then reduce to low and cover with lid. Allow to cook until everything is heated through and chiles are soft, about 15 minutes. (Continue with searing the pork while this is cooking.)
- With slotted spoon, remove all ingredients from sauce pan to electric blender. Add enough fresh water to allow blender blades to turn easily. Pulse until fully chopped and blended.
- Place mesh strainer on top of medium bowl and pour in chile mixture. Allow liquid to strain through, using a spoon to press out as much liquid as possible then discard the solids. Pour into clean crock pot and stir in the remaining beef broth.
- While chiles are heating, in a small bowl, mix together baking powder, salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and achiote. Set aside.
- Cut pork roast into bite sized pieces. In medium bowl, mix well with enough spice powder to cover.
- In large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add pork roast pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until seared (about 8-10 minutes).
- Remove pork roast pieces to crock pot and stir together with chile mixture. Add bay leaves and stir gently.
- Cook 3-4 hours on high, or 5-6 hours on low. Remove bay leaves before servng.
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