What is Chilorio? The Star of Sinaloan Cuisine
As a child growing up, I became a big fan of two of my favorite breakfast dishes, chilorio, and machaca.
Although I was born and raised in Guadalajara, my mother is from Sinaloa, hence, my love for these foods.
Chilorio originated in the State of Sinaloa, in the northwest of Mexico; it is mainly made with shredded pork (although in some regions it is prepared with beef), seasoned with a mixture of chiles, spices, celery, garlic, and salt. It is cooked with pork lard.
The chilorio recipe is at least 300 years old, it is said that it was used as a natural preservative for stewed meat, due to its various seasonings.
It is mainly consumed in the north of Mexico; however, thanks to various food industries, it has reached every corner of the Mexican Republic employing canned or “bag” packaging.
The way to eat Chilorio will depend on each family because Chilorio is very versatile.
It can be enjoyed in tacos, sopes, or even with a bit of onion and tortillas. My favorite is for breakfast with scrambled eggs.
Sinaloa’s gastronomy is also praised throughout the country for the dishes prepared with ingredients unique to its coastlines, such as smoked marlin tostadas, shrimp aguachile, and dried beef machaca.
Unfortunately, getting your hands on a serving of smoked marlin is not easy when living outside of Mexico.
Nevertheless, Sinaloa can still be represented at your table when you cook this simple stew well-known throughout Mexico.
Chilorio may be the most famous dish from Sinaloa, and more specifically from Culiacan, where besides being homemade, Chilorio is sold in markets where people can buy it ready to take home.
This delicious food has been sold in a canned version since 1974, which is a versatile stew that you can use to make tacos, burritos, chimichangas, gorditas, tortas, tostadas, quesadillas, sopes, or tamales.
Some vendors offer the ready-to-eat Chilorio by the kilo, along with other pork and meat products, such as dried shredded meat, cheese, chicharrones, and the like.
Ingredients for 6 people:
- Pork leg 800 gms
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 White onion
- 3 Ancho chiles
- 3 Pasilla chiles
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 15 gms dried oregano
- 5 gms cumin powder
- 125 ml apple vinegar
- 125 gms butter
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 3 Cloves
- 3 gms sugar
- You will start by cooking the meat. In my case, I prefer to do it in the slow cooker, putting the onion cut in quarters at the bottom of the pot, and on top, the meat cut in cubes, salt, and bay leaves
- Cover and let it cook at a high temperature for four hours. You can also do it in a saucepan by placing the same ingredients and covering completely with water, allowing it to cook over medium heat for an hour and a half or until the meat is well-cooked and the water has been absorbed
- While the meat is cooking, you can prepare the sauce or marinade
- Devein the chiles and boil them in half a liter of water. Afterward, pass them to the blender together with the garlic cloves, the spoonful of dried oregano, half a teaspoon of cumin, the cloves, salt, pepper, half cup of vinegar, and the cooking water of the chili peppers
- Blend for a couple of minutes until you have a thick and smooth sauce. If necessary, you can help the blender by adding a little of the meat broth
- When the meat is cooked, shred it with the help of two forks and then fry it in a frying pan with the lard until it is lightly browned, at which time you will add the chili sauce and a pinch of sugar
- Stir and lower the heat to cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, until the excess liquid has evaporated but without allowing the meat to dry out
Chilorio is traditionally served in tacos, and if you want to be faithful to the Sinaloa style, you will need to get some good flour tortillas, a little bit of onion, and a tomatillo sauce.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with serving them in corn tortillas, with some finely chopped fresh onion, cilantro, and a touch of lime juice.