Back when Steven and I were in college we would frequent Chipotle for their fajita burritos. We've both graduated and rarely go there nowadays but still get some serious burrito cravings. While googling for a copycat recipe for Chipotle's Carnitas (braised pork in juniper berries, thyme, and bay leaf) or the Barbacoa (braised beef in chipotle adobo and cumin), I stumbled on a recipe from the Niman Ranch cookbook for braised pork shoulder with tomatoes and cumin by Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle. Even though it was a pork recipe, it sounded more like the Barbacoa rather than the Carnitas. But hey we're not picky, and it looked pretty darn tasty. I'm sure the real recipes are hush hush top secret but this recipe made some really delicious shredded pork that we used in Chipotle style fajita burritos with sauteed onions and peppers.
- To decrease the spiciness of the pork, use only 1 chipotle pepper or cut them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
- At the end, I like to puree the braising liquid, then add that to the shredded meat so it can soak up all the delicious flavor. The meat will be really delicious and juicy.
Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cumin, Cloves and Chipotle Peppers
Adapted from the Niman Ranch Cookbook
3 lb pork shoulder or 3 lb beef chuck roast
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, crushed slightly
1 onion, cut in half then chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 14oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 sprigs of fresh oregano (can substitute dried, about 1/2 tsp?)
2 whole cloves
1 - 2 bay leaves
2 chipotle peppers packed in adobo
1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce
About 1/4 C water or meat stock
Salt and pepper to taste.
Rub some salt and pepper on the pork shoulder (or beef if you're using that).
In a dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat. Sear the pork shoulder on all sides until it is browned. Remove the pork and set aside for now.
Add the cumin seeds to the pan and toast in the hot oil until fragrant. Add the chopped onions and saute until lightly browned on the edges. Then add the garlic and chopped chipotle peppers and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the whole can of tomatoes including the liquid, bay leaves, dried oregano, cloves, chicken stock or some water and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the pork back to the pan and bring the contents up to a boil then lower to a bare simmer. Braise until the pork is fall apart tender, about 3 - 4 hours (or 6 hours in a slow cooker). You can braise on the stovetop on a low heat setting, in the oven at 325 deg F, or in a slow cooker.
The meat is done when it is fall apart tender. Try your best to remove it in one piece and set aside. Remove the cloves, bay leaves, and oregano sprig (if you used the sprigs) from the braising liquid. Then in a food processor or blender puree into a sauce. If the sauce is too thin, simmer it on the stovetop until it has reduced a little. Meanwhile, using two forks, shred the pork shoulder. Return the shredded meat to the simmering sauce. Let it heat through and soak up all the flavor and juices.
Serve with rice, mexican rice, or in tacos, burritos, etc.
I made some Mexican rice instead of the Chipotle cilantro lime rice. For Chipotle style rice cook long grain rice in chicken stock, then when the rice is finished add some fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, and a little bit of salt.
Adapted from Rick Bayless
1 1/2 C medium grain rice
1 (14 - 15-oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained but reserve the liquid (Muir Glen roasted tomatoes are best)
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 1/2 Tbsp lard (mmm bacon fat), canola or vegetable oil
2 - 3 jalapenos, minced (seeds can be removed for milder rice)
1 3/4 C chicken broth or water
Optional: chopped cilantro
Rinse the rice then let it drain in a sieve.
In a food processor or blender, puree the drained canned tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Add some of the drained tomato liquid for the puree to equal 1 cup.
Heat the oil or lard in a saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the rice to the hot oil and stir. Toast the rice for about 5 minutes. Then add the jalapenos, tomato puree, and chicken stock. Scrape up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring the contents up to a boil then lower the heat to a bare simmer. Cook for about 15 - 20, or until the rice is cooked through and tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
Fluff with a fork and mix in some chopped cilantro if preferred.
Burritos with Sauteed Peppers and Mexican Rice
Burrito size flour tortillas
Mexican or cilantro lime rice
Fresh tomato salsa
Shredded Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese
Sauteed onions and peppers
1 white or yellow onion, 1/4 in slices
2 bell peppers, 1/4 in slices
2 tsp of vegetable or canola oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions, some salt and pepper, and saute for about 1 - 2 minutes. Then add the bell peppers and saute another minutes. You want both the onions and bell peppers to stay crunchy, but the onions are cooked a little longer to lessen some of the "oniony" bite.
Steam the flour tortillas or warm them for a few seconds in the microwave. Add your burrito filling, roll it up (or attempt to roll it up since we tend to overfill our burritos), and enjoy!