Let’s not talk about the food yet.  Let’s talk about the reason for this dish or more specifically the recipe.  In previous posts for chili pepper-based recipes, we have received notes about how the chili peppers we use are often hard to find in certain areas: cascabels, chipotles, pequins, anchos, guajillos, etc.  Other people have asked for chili pepper flavor without so much spice/heat.  We’ve heard loud and clear, so this post is about making an authentic-tasting chili pepper sauce, using readily available ingredients with a rich taste that is not spicy.  Let’s hope it works out!

The first part is making a Latin-flavored shredded pork.  I’ve done BBQ-style pulled pork before; even though this uses the same cut (pork butt) and is shredded, it tastes totally different.  Plus we’re going to use it to make an enchilada casserole, which we’ve done before (last time the enchiladas were beef with a green sauce), so this is quite different.

Pork Enchiladas with rice and salad

You’re about to make a LOT of shredded pork!  You could buy this pre-made, in fact I recently saw it for sale at Costco — it’s the first time I’ve seen pre-made pulled pork; but the flavors are not likely to be just right.  And this is so easy, just go for it.

Latin Shredded Pork
~roughly 4 quarts


  • 1/2 cup Tangerine Juice (about 2 tangerines)
  • 1 bulb Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons White Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dry Oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • 9 to 10 pound Pork Butt, skin on

marinade ingredients


1. Then combine all the ingredients (other than the pork butt) in a blender and puree until completely smooth, about two minutes.

2. Using a paring knife, make deep slits by driving the knife into the pork and then twisting it.  It’s easier to do this if the pork is closer to room temperature.  Do this all over the pork, I did about 20.

3. In a large casserole dish (I used 9″ x 13″), make a large spread of plastic wrap that hangs over the edges by at least a foot.  The plastic should criss cross.  Place the pork over the plastic wrap.  Pour about one third to one half of the puree over the pork and push it into the slits with your finger.  Turn over the pork and pour remaining puree over the pork, continuing to push into slits on other side.  When done, pull the plastic up and wrap it very tightly.

4. Refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 24 hours. Pre-heat oven to 325 deg F. at least 30 minutes before you want to roast the pork.

5. Remove pork from plastic and place directly into a roasting pan, skin side up. Roast at 325 deg F for about 4.5 hours.  The ideal way to know if you’re done is with a thermometer: you’re looking for 195-200 deg F internal temperature (it will be cooked through at a lower temp, but it won’t shred).  If you don’t have a tester then after about 4 hours start to tug on the bone, it should be very loose and almost able to pull right out.

pork butt marinade pork butt 2
marinade and wrap 2 marinade pork butt

6. Let rest for at least an hour, covered loosely with aluminum foil.

roasted pork butt

7. Remove to a large cutting board, remove the skin, pull large pieces (muscle sections) apart, then shred with two forks.  This is easy but takes some patience.  You may want to discard large pieces of fat.  The skin is delicious, but don’t combine with the meat, it’s too tough.

pulled pork butt

Cheating Enchiladas

The reason, as I alluded to earlier, this is “cheating” is because you’ll notice the recipe has no chili peppers in it (although it includes two easy to find powders).  You will get a great pepper taste though all thanks to roasting a bell pepper!


  • 1 large Green Bell Pepper
  • 32 ounces Canned, Crushed Tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup Diced Yellow Onion (~1/2 large onion)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Annatto/Achiote-Colored Vegetable Oil (or just plain Vegetable Oil)
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 tablespoon Dry Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 6 cups Latin Shredded Pork (recipe above)
  • 12 Corn Tortillas (~5.5″ diameter, the smaller kind)
  • 3 cups Shredded Queso Blanco (available at Costco, most supermarkets, or you could use Polly-O Mozzarella)


1. Roast the be-jeebus out of your pepper.  If you haven’t done it before, read this post on roasting a pepper. Below is a before and after of my pepper, it’s the same pepper edited into a single photo:

Before and After Roasted Green Bell Pepper

Peel and remove the seeds.

2. Place the roasted pepper flesh, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a blender and puree until a medium-fine mash, it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth.  This is a variant of the classic sofrito.

3. In a large dutch oven, over medium-low heat, add the spices (cumin, chili, and cayenne powders) and dry-roast about 3 minutes until aromatic.


4. Add the oil and sofrito, increase the heat to medium-high, and stir until well combined. After about 4-5 minutes, as the fat is heated and ingredients combined, it should be almost glowing from the sofrito and oil.

5. Add water, oregano, cocoa powder, and salt and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium, loosely cover (leave at least an inch open), and cook through for 30 minutes, stirring a few times during the process.  Taste for seasoning.

6. Remove 2 cups of the sauce and reserve.

7. Add pork to the pot of sauce and heat through stirring constantly to combine thoroughly.  Add enough pork (about 6 cups) so that all of the pork is completely coated and there is almost no loose sauce left in the pot. Turn off the heat.

pulled pork and sauce

8. Now for the fun part: assembly. Pre-heat the oven to 375 deg F. Heat a cast-iron skillet over the lowest heat and add some tortillas in the dry skillet.  Meanwhile spoon enough of the reserved sauce into the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish, just enough to lightly coat the bottom.

sauce the baking dish

9.  Then, for each tortilla do the following (I do this all while holding one warm tortilla in my left hand and moving ingredients with my right hand, it’s easiest):

a. After a tortilla is completely heated through on both sides (it should be soft enough to roll easily), place in hand.

b. Put a bit of the pork/sauce mixture into the tortilla in a line down the center, about 2-3 tablespoons.

c. Put a bit of shredded cheese over the mixture in the tortilla, just enough to cover.

pork enchilada assembly

d. Roll the tortilla into a tube, and place seam-side-down in the casserole dish.

e. Pack each new tortilla tube very tightly against the previous.  Any extra room should be filled with a cut tortilla.

pork enchilada assembly 3

10. When done, spoon most of the remaining, reserved sauce over the tortillas to coat them completely.

pork enchilada assembly 4

11. Cover the top with a thin but completely covered layer of cheese. Optionally, decorate the cheese with remaining sauce.

Pork Enchiladas before baking

12. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, at 375 deg F for 30 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake another 10 minutes to brown the cheese.

Pork Enchiladas

13. Serve piping hot with some Mexican rice and a vinaigrette-dressed salad. Optionally garnish with lime wedges, jalapenos, and/or sour cream.

Pork Enchiladas with rice and salad 4

posted by Lon at 11:22 AM Filed under Latin, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.