My wife described the sauce in this as the single best red sauce she ever had. The underlying sauce is made with 5 ounces of dried chiles and from the number of times (6) I had to scrub my hands to get the chili residue off, I expected this to be blazingly hot but the flavor was actually wonderfully smooth and pleasant.

Note: I made a number of changes from the original Milk Street recipe to make this easier to cook.


  • 3 ounces dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
  • 2 ounces dried California chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
  • 4 cups boiling water plus one cup water
  • 5 pounds boneless pork butt, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2” cubes
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 medium white onions chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, mexican if you have it
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp molasses

Serve with:

  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • tortillas
  • lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro
  • diced red onion


  1. Place the chiles in a large bowl and pour in the boiling water. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a strainer to make sure that you get rid of all the seeds when you drain into a blender. Since the strainer will catch the pepper bodies, make sure you add them into the blender. Puree for 30 seconds in the blender. Measure 1/2 cup of the chili puree into a measuring cup and add 1 tbsp molasses and set aside for the very last step.

  2. Add the remainder of the chili puree into a large bowl with the cut pork chunks. Add 1/2 cup water plus 2 tsp salt to the blender and turn on to rinse out the blender. Add the water plus remaining puree from the blender to the bowl with the pork. Stir the pork chunks with the puree until coated and then refrigerate for 1 hour.

  3. Preheat the oven to 325.

  4. Add the grapeseed oil to the dutch oven and heat it up. Add the onions to a dutch oven over medium heat and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the diced garlic, cumin, coriander and oregano to the dutch oven and saute for 30 more seconds.

  5. Add the pork and pepper puree and 1/2 cup water to the dutch oven. Stir to combine and then cover the pot and cook for 2 hours.

  6. Remove the pot from the oven, uncover, stir and return to the oven, uncovered to the oven. Continue to cook for 1 hour more to 1 1/2 hours more. Remove from the oven and set on the stove over medium heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes, stirring from time to time until thickened slightly. Stir in the reserved 1/2 cup chili puree with molasses.

Serving Recommendation

This is absolutely delicious served in a bowl and then topped with sour cream, crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Served over the top of rice is also excellent.