Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Braised Pork Shoulder with New Mexico Red Chile Sauce

Top 10 favorite foods: Pulled pork makes my list. Juicy, tender, low-and-slow-cooked meat is worth the 2-1/2 to 3 hours it needs to become wonderfully succulent—and that allows plenty time to make a rich, savory chile sauce to go with it.

I think dried chiles make some of the most flavorful of all sauces. Their complex, smoky, sometimes hot, sometimes mild flavors belie the fact that they’re very easy to work with—the key is simply reconstituting their softness in hot water. Once soft, chop them very finely before blending them with other savory ingredients in a food processor, and you’re ready to go. Doesn’t get much better.

Note: New Mexico chiles are very mild, so there’s not much heat in this sauce, even with the habanero I added. There’s more of a deep, smoky chile flavor, not spiciness. If you’d like some heat, try ranchero sauce—similar in preparation, but made with fiery little chiles de arbol.

Another note: This pulled pork with chile sauce is very versatile, so how you serve it is up to you. Make simple tacos or stuff burritos or enchiladas…spoon it over cooked rice or stir it into black beans and rice…serve it as a main dish meat with mashed potatoes on the side…pile it on a sandwich bun topped with coleslaw and call it a southern barbecue sandwich…you get the picture.

Serves 8


For the Pork
  • 2 tsp chile powder
  • 2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • 1 3-lb pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
Untrimmed Pork Shoulder
For the Chile Sauce
  • 6 New Mexico chiles
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 habanero chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
Onion, Garlic, and Chiles
Prepared Vegetables

For the Pork
  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients (through cumin) in a small bowl and season with salt. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or overnight). Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.
Spice Rub 
Spice-Rubbed Pork
  1. Preheat the oven to 275° F.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place 1/2 the pork in the pan and sear until browned, 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and sear the rest of the pork with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Return the 1st batch of pork to the pan, with any accumulated juices. Add the broth and season with salt. Cover tightly and braise in the oven until fork-tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours, turning once halfway through.
  4. Transfer the pork to a plate and let rest until cool enough to handle. Pour the liquid from the pan but do not wipe. Pull the pork into shreds, discarding any fatty parts, and return to the pan.
  5. Over medium-low heat, add the chile sauce (recipe follows) and stir to combine. Heat until hot throughout, 8-10 minutes.
Beginning to Sear
After Turning 
Ready to Braise
Halfway Through 
Braised Pork
Pulled Pork
Remove Liquid 
Return Pork
Serve the pork and sauce with warm tortillas, mounded on sandwich rolls, over spooned over rice, or however you choose.

Braised Pork Shoulder with New Mexico Red Chile Sauce
For the Chile Sauce
  1. Remove the stems and tear each dried chile into 3 or 4 pieces. (Shake out any loose seeds, if desired.) Place the chile pieces in a saucepan and add 2 cups of water.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the chiles in a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a cutting board and chop very finely (until virtually pulverized). Place in a food processor and add the reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Set aside.
  4. Re-heat the saucepan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic, habanero, and onion and sauté 4 minutes.
  5. Add the broth, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin and season with salt. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes.
  6. Add the broth mixture to the food processor with the chile mixture. Process until well blended and the solids are finely chopped to a smooth texture.
Torn New Mexico Chiles
Softened Chiles 
Finely Chopped
Vegetables Beginning to Cook  
Broth Mixture
New Mexico Red Chile Sauce
(If made a day ahead, transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate overnight.)


  1. I'm a big fan of pulled pork too, this sounds amazing with the smoky red chile sauce! Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend?!

    1. Thank you, Joy --- appreciate the opportunity to share!