Not Your Average Chili con Carne

I have learned to prepare practically everything from scratch.  Not because I have something against convenience foods be they canned, box mixes or pre-packaged, but out of necessity.  Convenience items are hard to find in small town Mexico and when you do find them, they can be a bit pricey.

My grandparents often relied on convenience foods.  My grandpa was a big fan of canned chili con carne.  Not very appetizing, I know, but we all liked it.  I didn't taste homemade chili con carne until I was in my late teens. (Better late than never.) 

As a newlywed, my hubby requested that I prepare Carne de Puerco con Chile.  I wasn't sure what it was, but I figured that it was something along the lines of chili con carne, made with ground pork.  I knew that Hubby wouldn't like the canned stuff, so I prepared a chili recipe that I found in one of the cookbooks I received as a wedding present.

After spending many hours over the hot stove, my homemade chile con carne was ready.  When I served it to my hubby, I could tell he was impressed and enjoying his meal.  He then asked me the name of the dish I had just served him.  I laughed, thinking he was being silly and responded that it was the Carne de Puerco con Chile that he had requested. 

My hubby lovingly explained, that although the dish was delicious, it wasn't the dish he had requested.  He tried to explain what Carne de Puerco con Chile was, but to me his description sounded a lot like what I had prepared. 

Seeing that I was starting to get stubborn, my hubby decided that he would prepare the Carne de Puerco con Chile so that I could understand and see the difference.

He prepared it by frying chunks of pork shoulder roast in oil, then he added a salsa he made with tomatillos and serrano chilies.  He let it cook for awhile then added some cooked beans and bean broth.  The finished product was very tasty and extremely spicy!  And we both agreed that the meat was a bit tough.

Lucky for us, my mother-in-law went to visit after we had been married for 6 months.  I told her about our attempt at making the recipe, in hopes that she could explain what had gone wrong in preparing our Carne de Puerco con Chile.  

We had done everything right, only we did things in the wrong order and used the wrong chile pepper.  Here is the correct way to prepare Carne de Puerco con Chile.

Carne de Puerco con Chile

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder roast (lomo de cerdo)
  • 3 to 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Red Salsa:
  •      24 tomatillos
  •        6 chiles de arbol*
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked beans
  • 2 cups bean broth

Cut the pork shoulder roast into 1-inch cubes.  Place in large skillet; add enough water to barely cover meat (about 3 cups).  Season with 1 teaspoon of salt; cover skillet.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer until meat is tender. (About an hour to an hour and a half.)

While the meat is cooking, prepare the Red Salsa by bringing the tomatillos and arbol chilies to a boil over med-high heat.  Let cool slightly.  Using a slotted spoon, place tomatillos and arbol chilies in blender cup.  Add one cup of the water in which tomatillos were cooked.  Puree until smooth, about 1 minute.  Season with salt; set aside.

Once the meat is tender, drain excess water.  Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the skillet and saute the meat over high heat until a light golden brown.  Reduce heat to low.

Pour the Salsa over the meat.  Stir in beans and 1 cup bean broth.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Season with salt if necessary. (If the salsa is too thick, add an additional cup of bean broth.)  Serve with warm corn tortillas.  Enjoy!!!

*Note:  For a "redder" salsa, add more chiles de arbol.  I don't tolerate spice very well, so I only use 6.  If you want to make the Salsa Verde version, just substitute serrano chilies for the chile de arbol.

With Love,
Leslie Limon

Printable Recipe


  1. Thanks for sharing this Leslie. It looks delicious.

  2. Hi Leslie!
    Thanks for the post. This sounds good! One question—why is the salsa "Red Salsa" when it is made with tomatillos? I love tomatillo salsa. Maybe Lynn will try this one with tofu??

  3. Pete: Glad you could finally leave a comment! :D To answer your question, the salsa is referred to as salsa roja, because it is made with chiles de arbol. The more chiles you add, the redder your salsa, but also spicier. I'm not good with spice! Let me know how this turns out with tofu.

  4. Hi Leslie!
    I am inspired. Just read your whole food blog and am publicly vowing to make my kitchen more Mexican.
    As in: have ongoing olla de frijoles, MAKE taquitos instead of always ordering them out - great for leftover pollo asado, no?, make caldo de pollo soon, as well as arroz poblano (can't wait to experiment with more chilis), Caprichos - mmmmmm yum yum, enchiladas de papas, the list goes on. . .
    Great blog!

  5. yummy! ! thank you Leslie

  6. How Long Should i Cook The Tomatillos ?

  7. Congratulations! You are the first claimant of "from scratch" that actually delivered. WHY do people insist on canned chilies, tomatoes, and beans... and then compound their sin by using chili powder?