Pork with Ancho and Cherry Sauce – Worth The Wait?

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce (1 of 10)

Just over a year ago, I was asked to come up a recipe for a fundraising barbecue. The brief was straightforward. It had to use pork. It had to be simple, as it was going to be prepared in quantity, and it had to be a real crowd pleaser. With all that and seasonality in mind, I devised a delicious Pork with Ancho and Cherry Sauce. I was delighted with it. Then it all went wrong.

The venue was changed and the new location insisted on preparing the food themselves. So I was left with a cracker of a recipe and nothing to do with it. I was a bit peeved and delayed writing it up. Then the cherry season passed and I had to wait for nearly a year for the lovely fruit to make another appearance. So here, while cherries are available in the top half of the world, is the recipe.


  • One rolled, tied shoulder (or leg) of pork joint about 1.5kilo
  • 250gm of cherries
  • Three or four dried Ancho chillies
  • Sat and pepper to season


Put the ancho chillies into a small bowl and add about a quarter litre of boiling water.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce

Anchos work sooooooooo well with cherries. Really worth waiting for this.

Let this stand for half an hour. Pull out the stalks. Most of the seeds will come out attached. It is not critical to get them all out as the Ancho adds smokiness rather than naked heat to the dish.

Seed the cherries. If you have a cherry stone remover (like what I do) you are in a good place. If not, half the cherries and pop out the stones. They are going to be blitzed anyway so appearance is not top of the list.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce

When the cherries are stoned, slash the meat through the fat, into the meat.

Slash the meat like in the photo. Add the Anchos, the water they softened in and cherries to a processor and blitz them.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce (5 of 10)

They make a fantastic colour. Worth waiting a year to see it.

Season the pork very well with salt and pepper.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce (4 of 10)

Season well. I have waited three seasons to show you this recipe.

Side note on pork quality: The quality of pork available varies widely. I strongly recommend buying free range pork, if both your budget and conscience stretch that far. Many of the animals bred to provide pork and bacon for our tables have a pretty awful existence before getting the chop (pun intended). Do the right thing, go free range.

Pour the marinade over the pork and let it rest in the fridge for at least a few hours and preferably overnight.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce (7 of 10)

You have to agree that the colour is worth waiting to see.

Place the pork on a roasting rack and cook in a 200ºC oven until done. About an hour and a half should do the trick. A little longer if you have a leaky oven or are nervous about eating your pork on the rare side (If you are buying cheap, poor quality pork, you have every right to be nervous).

Reserve the marinade and put it in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and reduce it a little. Carve the pork into large slices.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce

Perfect roast pork with a hot, sweet sauce. Well worth the wait.

Strain the marinade/sauce and serve it over the pork. I also roasted some onions to have on the side. They worked pretty well with this.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce

Nice with rice. The sauce takes on a lovely adobe colour.

I recommend this simple dish. I’ve had nearly a year to think about it and it is certainly worth doing again, while the cherries are around….


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Latest comments
  • That looks lovely — the organization’s loss is our gain. I’ve made pork with cherries in the past and added a little cherry brandy or Kirsch to the sauce before I mount it with butter, but I’ve never thought to add chilis. I’ll have to try it the next time I get my hands on some good pork!

  • Looks gorgeous Conor, good job man. What is the skin like? Is it soft, chewy, crunchy?

      • Thanks Conor, I’d love to try this but I cook for myself so a whole pork shoulder is out of the question unless I cut it up and freeze portions. I wil have to give this a go with loin chop or maybe ribs. Free range is the only way for me. Luckily I found a specialist Mexican food importer nearby that can get the dried Adobos, Wester Australia is not known for ‘exotic’ produce.

  • Hi Conor! I’m saving this recipe. I’ve always wanted to do something savory with cherries. This looks absolutely wonderful!

      • I’m doing great, Conor. I hope you and yours are too. Thanks for the tips!

  • Oh, that looks delicious. I second your call for people to buy free-range pork – it is the only humane choice. But people should also check that pigs were both bred outside and spent their entire lives outside. Pork that declares itself outside-bred often only means the piglets are born outside. At 3 weeks old they are weaned and put into inside systems. Similarly with lots of so called free-range pork the pigs are only outside for half of their life which is about 2 months. However there are people who raise their pigs outside on pasture the whole time and it is worth looking for their meat. Sorry about the little rant, but I care quite a bit about this …. now to find some free-range cherries!

  • Cherries are six months away down here, so what am I supposed to do? Droolin’ now…

      • I have to wait for Christmas…. they will be fabulous, huge and juicy, but require a new mortgage or the sale of the firstborn… 🙁

  • Boy did the fundraiser miss out not having you cook this. Definitely their loss!

      • I mentioned this recipe to my husband and he’s now waiting for me to give it a try. 😊

  • That sounds like such a great flavor combination. I have to make this.

  • This was definitely worth the wait! I love ancho chiles, and Washington cherries are abundant here right now. Drooling (again) here.

  • Love the simplicity! I agree cherries and ancho chiles work well together, I make chocolate mousse filled ancho chile with amarena cherries for dessert.
    They missed out on a great dish and should have take this into consideration when deciding to change the venue…

  • Just phoned my butcher to order the pork for this weekend!!

  • Another winner, Mr B. Looks delicious. Our cherry tree only had two cherries on it this year so I may have to wait a full year to try this … but I’m sure it’d be worth the wait. Lx

      • Sounds wonderful, have a fabulous holiday. We’re off to Co Cork shortly … will report back on the smoked salmon made by a friend of a friend!

  • OMG! This looks so good, you are right, the color is AMAZING!

    cherries and ancho chiles – match made in heaven, I need to try this…. I am thinking of adapting for sous-vide maybe… hummmmm… could work well…

  • Just marinading this now! Salivating

  • Everything is better with cherries.

  • Do you think i could do this with pork belly?? If yes what would suggest for time and temp?? It looks amazing!

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