Make Ahead

Braised Pork in Lazy Cherry Ancho Mole

June 26, 2016
8 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes about 4 pounds of carnitas
Author Notes

I struggled trying to figure out what to do with cherries when they started popping up at the farmer’s market near our house, but after doing some research and perusing through a Mark Miller cookbook (always a good idea), I finally had some direction. This recipe was born out of frustration and indecision, but luckily, mole is one of those foods that invites EVERYONE to the party.

Sometimes containing upwards of 60 ingredients and often demanding an entire day to make, mole is definitely an undertaking. While all the work is certainly worth it, sometimes I’m just not up to it. Sometimes I just feel like being lazy. I've made so many lazy moles in my day, and while they aren’t as complex as they could be, I still find that they hit the spot; plus they’re really fun to make and easy to experiment with. Never underestimate the amount of joy I can derive from dumping a bunch of stuff in a food processor, blending it together, and seeing what happens. —Jon Brian Kinney

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Savory Love is a couple living in Portland, Oregon who writes a food blog together.
WHAT: Pork shoulder braised in a cherry mole so speedy we could barely believe it.
HOW: Whizz chiles, cherries, chocolate, coffee, vinegar, and spices in a blender until smooth. That's your mole! (Seriously.) Pour the mole over cubed pork shoulder, braise for 3 hours, and shred it all into carnitas.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This almost-instant (same-day) mole that that doesn't have a two-page, alchemist's list of ingredients made me do a happy dance! This is definitely a "set it and forget it" type of meal. I braised it in my Dutch oven and only gave it a couple of stirs. My whole house smelled of spicy deliciousness and we couldn't wait to try it! The results were a deep complex carnitas with a respectable heat level. It was great for dinner and made outstanding chilaquiles the next morning. I love that this used cherries in an unexpected way! —Annie stader —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Lazy Cherry Ancho Mole
  • 1 1/2 ounces ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 pound fresh dark cherries (we like Bings), pitted and halved
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup brewed strong coffee, hot
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, toasted
  • 1 ounce chocolate (over 60%, please, none of that milk chocolate nonsense), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 pinch ground clove
  • 1 dash freshly grated nutmeg
  • Braised Pork in Lazy Cherry Ancho Mole
  • 4 pounds lean pork shoulder, cut into 2- to 3-inch cubes
  • 1 batch of Lazy Cherry Ancho Mole
  1. Lazy Cherry Ancho Mole
  2. Rehydrate the chiles by submerging them in water and microwaving for 2 to 3 minutes. They should be soft and have changed in color, becoming more red. Remove from the water and set aside. Discard the water.
  3. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the mole except for the coffee and the vinegar. Pulse repeatedly, scraping the sides until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it. Combine the coffee and vinegar and pour through the top of the food processor while the blade is running. The mole should loosen up and blend until completely smooth. The quick mole is ready to use, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week before using.
  1. Braised Pork in Lazy Cherry Ancho Mole
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. In a casserole dish (or Cutch oven), pour in the mole and place the pieces of pork on top. If using a Dutch oven, simply place all the pork inside and give it a quick stir. Cover in aluminum foil or lid and braise for about 3 hours or until the meat becomes tender and falls apart.
  4. After braising, remove the meat from the mole, allowing it to rest and be shredded later. Remove the excess fat and, if you like, use an immersion blender to make sure the mole has a really smooth texture.
  5. Shred the meat with forks and serve after cooling with sauce on the side. Accompaniments can include corn tortillas or rice and beans—or just eat it out of the pan over the stove.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

22 Reviews

Melissa B. July 3, 2022
So good and so easy. Definitely a bit lighter tasting than a true mole, but not in a bad way
whym June 22, 2022
Wow! This recipe has blown me away! The flavors in the sauce are complex and delicious, and they complement the fork-tender pork so well. I've always been intimidated by making my own mole, but now I'm adding it to my regular rotation. This simple recipe really makes the ingredients sing!

And as a bonus: your kitchen will smell INCREDIBLE for three hours
Andrea F. March 8, 2019
Love this recipe! I like to make the mole the night ahead and then just cook everything in the crockpot the next morning. I also use frozen bing cherries, which makes everything super easy. Served with shredded cotija cheese and cilantro. Delicious!
[email protected] March 30, 2017
I know the "made from scratch" mole is by far the best but I've had a jar of mole concentrate in my cabinet forever. Has anyone every used this instead?
SPark0101 January 16, 2017
Small typo in step 2: "Cutch Oven" instead of "Dutch"
sexyLAMBCHOPx August 18, 2016
maybe "dried" chilis instead of smoky..
Jon B. August 18, 2016
Yep! Dried. Not smoked.
Mikie August 18, 2016
Cherry goes really, really well with turkey, so I'm gonna have to try it with that!
Karina August 13, 2016
Would this work with other kind of meat? Chicken maybe??
Jon B. August 15, 2016
We haven't tried it with chicken, but the mole recipe is loosely based on a Oaxacan mole (those are the ones that tend to have chocolate in 'em) and that's traditionally served with chicken. It should work just fine! I'd recommend making sure that it's served with something fatty like some hearty refried beans or maybe some cheese so that the sweetness of the cherries doesn't get carried away. Try it and let us in on how it turned out; we'd love to know!
Annie S. August 12, 2016
This was just delicious! Congratulations on being a finalist.
Jon B. August 12, 2016
Thank you so much! We are over the moon happy about it!
aargersi July 29, 2016
Milk chocolate nonsense :-)
Now I want mole
Jon B. August 12, 2016
Make iiiiiiiiiiiit.
morning G. July 20, 2016
This sounds wonderful. I like the idea of using cherries in a mole. I will certainly try this recipe.
Jon B. July 26, 2016
Thanks! We hope you make it, and if you do, you ought to photograph it and tag us on Instagram @savorylovepdx!
morning G. July 29, 2016
I do intend making it but I'm having trouble finding Adobo sauce in the UK. There are various brands of chipotle sauces but I can;t tell if they are similar to the sauce you use. Could you advise on the contents of the sauce you use so I can make my own? Cheers!
Jon B. July 29, 2016
Adobo sauce is almost never the same depending on who you ask, but it almost always consists of chiles and a variety of spices. If you’re looking for the Mexican iteration (and for this recipe, you would be), you’d wanna go after some smoked chiles like anchos or guajillos and blend them after rehydrating them with garlic, cumin, oregano, and some water until it resembles a loose paste or thick sauce.
To be honest, I only put chipotle en adobo in the recipe because (at least in the United States) it’s incredibly easy to find. It comes in tins, and I’ve even found them at gas stations. If you can find smoked chipotles or chipotle powder, that’d be just fine (use up to a tablespoon of chipotle powder, I’d say). What I’m after when I’m making this recipe is the slow burn and smokiness that chipotles provide, so the adobo sauce isn’t a necessity; it’s just how many of them come here.
We’re excited to see how it turns out!
Smaug August 16, 2016
I've never seen smoked Ancho or Guajillo chiles, but then I don't get around a lot. Can you suggest a source?
Jon B. August 16, 2016
They aren’t as common as some other smoked chiles, but they aren’t too difficult to find. I’ve seen them at Whole Foods pretty reliably; even Safeway before, as well. It just depends on what they choose to carry. The only problem is that they tend to be more on the spendy side ($5 for three or so) which I find silly. If there’s a Mexican market near you, I’d immensely recommend that you check there first. The likelihood of you finding them there is far higher than any commercial grocery store, and the chances of them being less expensive are even higher.
Smaug August 16, 2016
I think you must be talking about the DRIED chilis- not smoked; that's about the price at Safeway. I live in California, where any produce store can provide these at a good price. Not only have I never seen these chilis (or any but jalapenos) smoked, I've never come across it in a recipe or food description, though Anchos are sometimes described as "smoky".
Smaug March 30, 2018
PS a Tb of chipotle powder will likely result in your flaming eyeballs being blown into the next county, it is an ingredient to be approached with care.