Asado is braised pork stew with roasted ancho chiles and smoky Mexican spices. Make this easy pork asado recipe for a tasty Cinco de Mayo meal!
There is some confusion around the word asado, mainly because the word has more than one meaning. Is it a stew, a cooking method, or an outdoor celebration? Actually, it’s all of these!
Definition of Asado and Asados
The Spanish word asado (pronounced aˈsaðo ) translates in English to mean “roast” or “barbecued”. In Mexico, the word describes a delicious, slow braised pork shoulder stew.
Oh, and don’t confuse the stew with another Mexican dish, carne asada; the dishes are completely different (but equally tasty!)
Meanwhile, Argentinians have a completely different meaning for the word asado.
In Argentina (and other parts of South America), an asados is an outdoor cooking party, sort of similar to what Americans call a cookout or BBQ party. But the word also describes a method of cooking meat over fire or charcoal.
Grilled on a parillo (a large grill), the meats are typically flank steaks or other cuts of beef steak, ribs, chorizo and other sausages, sweetbreads, and chinchulines (chitterlings). You can learn more about Argentinian asados here.
Making Mexican Pork Stew
This rich pork shoulder stew is similar to New Mexico’s Carne Adovada, except that adovada is made with New Mexican red chiles. In comparison, this asado recipe calls for dried ancho chiles.
If you love the smoky flavor of ancho chiles, you should try this recipe for Ancho Chipotle Chili Lime Grilled Shrimp.
- Boneless pork roast– The best cut of pork for asado is a boneless shoulder roast (also called pork butt). If you want to use a different cut, be sure to choose a fatty roast with a good amount of marbling.
During the braising, all of that fat will melt away, releasing delicious flavor into the stew!
- Fresh garlic and onion– Using whole cloves of garlic is the best option for a braised dish like this one. Using minced garlic from a jar won’t provide enough flavor to be noticeable.
As for the onion, either yellow or white will be fine.
- Dried ancho chile peppers– When you shop for dried chiles of any kind, choose ones that are soft and pliable; hard or brittle chiles are past their prime. These dried ancho chiles are typically good quality.
How to make asado
BEFORE YOU START COOKING:
Braising can be done in a pot on the stove top, in an oven, or even in an Instant Pot. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
If you want to use an oven, preheat the oven temp to 350°F.
- Rehydrate the ancho chiles and make the chile paste.
Rehydrating dried chile peppers is easy; just place them into hot water and allow them to steep for several minutes. You really can’t overhydrate them, but to prevent them from being difficult to work with, try not to let them soak for more than 30 minutes.
- Brown the pork.
While the chiles are soaking, sear the cubes of pork. Don’t crowd the pan or the meat will steam rather than sear. To prevent this, you may need to sear the pork in batches.
- Make the chile puree.
When the chiles are rehydrated, add them to the bowl of a food processor along with the garlic cloves, onion and spices. Then just process for a couple of minutes to create a puree.
If the chile paste seems too thick, just add a teaspoon or two of water to thin it out.
- Combine the puree with the pork and other ingredients, and cook!
To cook pork asado in an oven, it takes about 90 minutes. On the stove top, asado cooks in about 2 hours. For Instant Pot pork stew, cook for 20 minutes, then allow a nature pressure release.
Some grocery stores label packages of pre-cut pork shoulder or pork sirloin as pork stew meat. So, yes, they are essentially the same.
Yes, any stew without potatoes generally freezes very well. Just be sure to leave some space at the top of the container to allow for expansion. Stew keeps well frozen for about 3 months.
The best way to defrost frozen stew is to place the container in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
If you’re in a hurry, place the covered container of frozen stew into a bowl of cool tap water. Change the water out every 30 minutes until the stew thaws
What to serve with asado
This is a hearty and flavorful meal that really doesn’t need much to go along with it. Warm flour tortillas are a given.
Asado (Mexican Pork Stew)
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 2″ cubes
- 1 tbsp kosher salt (more if needed)
- 2 tbsp bacon fat or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- flour tortillas for serving
- 16 ancho chiles seeded and stemmed
- 1 large white onion quartered
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
Toppings for Serving
- Crumbled cotija cheese
- Chopped cilantro
- Add the dried chiles to a large saucepan and add enough water to cover them by an inch. Bring to a boil, place lid on pan, turn heat to simmer and steam for 10 minutes. Drain and place in a blender along with the onion, garlic, oregano, cumin and allspice. Puree with 1 cup of water. Set aside.
- In a bowl, toss the pork with salt. Preheat oven to 350°F (if baking).
- In a large oven safe pot or Dutch oven heat the bacon fat or oil over medium high heat. Add the pork and brown on all sides, in batches if needed. Pour the chili puree over and stir to coat and mix thoroughly.
- Cover the pot and either simmer on low for 2 hours or bake in oven at 350°F for 1 1/2 hours. Season to taste with salt if needed.
- Serve garnished with cotija cheese crumbles and cilantro along with warm tortillas.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.