notes from the mexican kitchen

Taco Tuesday Moves to the Grill for Roasted Pork Shoulder with Ancho Barbecue Sauce

TacoTuesdayLogo_blueOK, a bunch of the last #TacoTuesday recipes have been about eating low on the food chain.  That is, eating more vegetables. Which I personally think is a good idea when you’re talking about weekday meals.

But this week? We’re taking it in the opposite direction with a slow-grilled bone-in pork shoulder roast with ancho barbecue sauce. I admit, this isn’t quite a weeknight dish. It’s more suited for a backyard summertime celebration.

We’ll start with the ancho BBQ sauce, which really begins with a foundation of red chile adobo, the same adobo that you’ll smear on the pork as a marinade. The rest is added to a saucepan with caramelized onions and fire-roasted tomatoes. To give the mixture a more recognizable barbecue sauce flavor, I’ve called for a splash of vinegar, agave nectar and Worcestershire sauce.

As for cooking the pork, I know not everyone has one of those kamado grills that I’m using here, so my recipe steps you through using a gas or charcoal grill. Whatever you’re cooking on, you’re aiming for a low, consistent temperature (275 to 300 degrees) until the shoulder reaches 190 degrees at the thickest part.

Espaldilla de Puerco con Salsa “Barbecue” de Chile Ancho
Servings: 4to 6 servings


  • 1(about 4 pounds) bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1 1/4cupsNew Red Chile Adobo (divided use)
  • 1 1/2tablespoons vegetable oil, olive oil, bacon drippings or butter (each will add a different character to the sauce)
  • 1small red or white onion (red will make the sauce sweeter), thinly sliced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 1tablespoon balsamic or sweet sherry vinegar
  • 1/2cup agave nectar or sugar
  • 2tablespoons Worcestershire
  • Salt


Place the pork on a baking sheet, smear all over with the ¾ cup Quick Red Chile Adobo, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Light a gas grill, setting the temperature at medium on the side burners (off in the center); or light a charcoal fire, letting the coals burn until they’re covered with gray ash and medium hot, then banking them to two sides. Lay the marinated pork in a V-shaped roasting rack set in a roasting pan. Pour 1 quart water into the roasting pan, set in the middle of the grill (the coolest part) and cover the grill. Cook, basting every ½ hour with the pan juices, at 275 to 300 degrees until the shoulder reaches 190 degrees at the thickest part, 4 to 4 ½ hours depending on how diligent you are in keeping a consistent temperature in your grill. (Live-fire cooks will need to add a couple of pieces of charcoal every 20 or 30 minutes to maintain temperature.)

While the pork is cooking, make the barbecue sauce.  In a medium (3-quart) saucepan set over medium, heat the oil, drippings or butter. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until it is soft and beginning to caramelize, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup Adobo and stir for a minute, then add the tomatoes and 1 cup water. Lower the heat and simmer until the mixture has the consistency of tomato paste, about 20 minutes. Scrape the sauce into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the pan and stir in the vinegar, agave nectar or sugar, Worcestershire, a generous ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Let the sauce simmer until it’s the consistency of thick barbecue sauce, 30 to 40 minutes.

During the pork’s final ½ hour of cooking, baste it several times with the barbecue sauce. When it’s ready, transfer the pork to a cutting board, tent with foil and let it rest for about 30 minutes to reabsorb the juices. Reheat the barbecue sauce, thinning it out with some of the pork’s pan juices or water, if necessary. Cut the shoulder into ½-inch slices, arrange on a warm serving platter and set before your guests, passing the sauce for them to add to their liking.


  1. Thank you for sharing ! I always enjoy your shows & your recipes. I get nostalgic for my ancestors life which I didn’t get to experience. In Bastrop, Texas my grand parents had a small Mexican restaurant before I was born! Am now 82 so it was before Mexican restaurants were popular . I can just taste mom’s tamales! I have made your tamales & they are the closest to mom’s! Muchas gracias!

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