Adapted from “Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys” by David Tanis
Makes:4 to 6 servings
Chez Panisse Co-Chef David Tanis calls this recipe from his book Heart of the Artichoke “the pork of your dreams.” We concur. Dried red chiles are rehydrated and puréed into a thick, spicy paste that is slathered on pork shoulder, and the pork is then slow-roasted in the oven until it’s extra tender. Tanis suggests serving it with cooked hominy. We also like it with rice, beans, in tacos, or in a sweet bun.
Special equipment: You’ll need a very clean coffee or spice grinder for this recipe.
Game plan: This dish can be made 1 day or many hours ahead and reheated.
Place the coriander and cumin seeds in a large frying or cast iron pan over medium heat and toast until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool. Using a spice grinder, grind the seeds into a fine powder; set aside.
Rinse the chiles in water and pat them dry with paper towels. Place half of the chiles in the large frying or cast iron pan and toast over medium heat until slightly puffed and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining chiles. When they’re cool enough to handle, cut the chiles in half lengthwise, then remove and discard the stems and seeds.
Place the chile halves in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chiles cool slightly in the cooking liquid, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to a blender. Add 1 cup of the cooking liquid and blend until smooth; set aside.
Heat the lard or oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, reserved coriander-cumin powder, bay leaf, and reserved chile purée, season with salt, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors start to meld, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the lower third.
Rinse the pork and pat it dry. Generously season the roast all over with salt and pepper and place it in a roasting pan or Dutch oven. (The roast can be cut into large pieces if it doesn’t fit easily in the pan.) Pour the cooled chile sauce over the pork and spread it all over to coat the meat. Cover the pan tightly with foil or a lid. Roast until the pork is tender and easily pulls apart with two forks, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.