This recipe combines two of my favourite ingredients: Tamarind and De Arbol Chillies. Tamarind is very prevalent in Mexican sweets and in the cooking of the pacific regions in Mexico; it arrived during Colonial times and soon established itself as an easy crop that required little or no work. The bittersweet and tangy taste is a favourite of most Mexicans. You can buy the fresh pods, or buy the pulp with or without seeds; mixed with sugar or with sugar and chilli. It makes delicious 'aguas frescas' (a cold drink), sweets and snacks. My mother loves making this with a whole leg of pork, but I much prefer shoulder of pork.
I personally love tamarind in any shape or form, but this sauce is truly out of this world. I always cook it with pork, there's some amazing chemistry between the sweet fattiness of the meat and the spicy tanginess of the sauce that just sends ripples of joy through the mouth. I like the sauce pretty hot (life's for living, right?!), but if you are of a more tender disposition, maybe reduce the amount of chillies by half. Taste the sauce and decide if you want more heat, it only takes a few minutes to roast extra chillies if you want more, just remember there's no way back with heat, once you add it, you can't take it away. I have used this sauce on chicken and pork ribs too. I totally see if working on a rack of lamb too. I hope you like this as much as we do.
I love making this on a Sunday morning, just in time for Sunday lunch, I carve the shoulder in bite size chunks, baste them with leftover sauce, which is thick and delicious and serve this in the middle of the table with warm tortillas and a few toppings to make tacos. Any leftovers are amazing for tortas too! So, delicious!
Preheat the oven at 180 Celsius. Heat the first amount of oil in a large cast iron pan with a lid or an oven proof pan as you will transfer this to the oven. I find the cast iron pot works perfect for me. While the oil heats, season the meat with plenty of salt and pepper and put in the pan to sear all sides so you have a lovely browned shoulder. Switch off the heat and make sure that the shoulder skin is facing up.
Put the second amount of oil in a n on stick pan and add the onion, chillies, garlic and pecan nuts. Cook gently at medium heat until the onion is soft and the chillies have gone a deeper auburn colour, about 8 minutes.
Put the tamarin syrup, the orange juice, Worcester sauce, teriaki sauce and salt into the blender and add the contents of the pan above. Blend everything on high speed until you have a homogenous, smooth sauce. This is a time to taste and correct heat if you use less chillies than the ones I recommend.
Pour the sauce ove the seared meat and cover with the lid. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook covered for 1 hour and 10 minutes, then baste the shoulder and cook for a further 20 minutes un covered to brown the skin. Cooking times may vary, so always check that the core temperature of your meat at its thickest end reaches 70 to 75 degrees Celsius with a meat thermometer.
When the meat is out done, you're going to be left with this deliciously thick sauce, save it. Fish the meat out and either carve it or pull it. Baste it with the leftover of the sauce. It's absolutely delicious in tacos! The sauce is spicy enough for you not to need any extra salsa, but I love adding some thinly sliced white cabbage, fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice to complete all toppings.