ASADO DE BODAS : Wedding Stew With Pork
Asado de bodas is definitely something special, as befits a wedding feast. Recipes with this name vary from north to south and east to west. Some use only ancho chiles, while others are made with beef instead of pork, but all incorporate that touch of sweet and sour, cloves, and cinnamon, along with just a hint of orange and chocolate, an influence from medieval convents. Toasting the whole spices and grinding them just before cooking is a simple step that adds wonderful flavor. Another small step that makes a difference is mincing the onions almost to a pulp, so that they melt into the sauce. Serve with simple white rice and warm flour tortillas.
4 large guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 ancho or pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 cups hot water
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 whole clove
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup very finely minced white onion
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
1 dried bay leaf
1-inch piece cinnamon stick or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water, Caldo de Pollo, or Caldo de Res
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon firmly packed piloncillo or brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon grated Ibarra Mexican chocolate or semisweet chocolate
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles and toast on both sides, turning occasionally and pressing down with a spatula, until they soften and blister. Remove from the pan. Place in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot water over them. Soak for 15 minutes, stirring once. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the soaking liquid.
In a blender, combine the chiles and the reserved soaking liquid, garlic, and salt and puree until perfectly smooth.
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin, clove, and peppercorns until fragrant, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. Let cool completely and grind in a spice grinder.
Place the pork in the bottom of a 5-quart slow cooker and sprinkle with the ground spices. Add the onion, marjoram, bay leaf, and cinnamon. Pour the chile puree over the meat and add the water. Stir well. Cover and cook on low 6 hours, stirring once or twice, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick and fragrant.
Remove and discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Stir in the vinegar, piloncillo, orange zest, and chocolate. Serve hot.