Peruvian Pork Adobo - adobo de chancho - is a traditional dish from southern Peru. My version of this spicy pork stew features pork loin, ají panca paste (a Peruvian pepper paste), and Peruvian chicha de jora (corn beer). Served with rice and sweet potatoes, it's spicy, Peruvian comfort food!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Peruvian Adobo
This was our fourth trip to Peru, and though our guides (Jim and Gladys) had talked up Peruvian adobo on all of them, it wasn't until our last full day in Peru that we finally walked to the far side of Cuzco with our friends to a local picanteria to try it. We ended up at El Rey, a noisy (and very busy!) place full of local Cuzqueños.
We LOVED our first experience with Peruvian pork adobo, and I was highly motivated to try making it at home. My only concern was finding the chicha de jora. I initially ordered this chicha from Amazon. It's $11.99 a bottle - a price I was willing to pay given my very strong desire to make this Peruvian stew. Imagine my delight when I texted my friend Ruben at Ruben's Grocery, and he told me they carry it! We got 4 huge bottles for $20.00!
So, I was super excited to get working on this pork adobo recipe, and really pleased with the results. It's more like a "labor of love." This Peruvian pork adobo recipe is NOT AN IMPULSE RECIPE! Marinating the pork overnight (24 hours ideally!) is key to developing the flavor in the dish.
If you love to try new recipes, with emphasis on global and somewhat unique recipes, this is a recipe for you! BONUS: Three pounds of pork serves 12 people (8 or 9 big appetites)! It freezes well. We've got a few more meals coming out of this one cooking session!
What is chicha?
Chicha is an ancient fermented drink indigenous to many cultures ranging from the Andes up to what is now the southwestern United States, and is not to be confused with chicha morada (a nonalcoholic purple corn drink).I've spent a lot of time in the Peruvian Andes, and it's definitely "a thing." You're more likely to find chicha in a village than a store; chicherias are often (if not mostly) identified by a red flag hanging outside the establishment.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- pork - I prefer a boneless cut, and use pork loin in the interest of reducing fat and calories. I do need to mention that pork loin tends to be a little dry even when braised. If you are looking for melt-in-your-mouth succulence, go for pork shoulder instead.
- chicha de jora - You may find chicha de jora (Peruvian corn beer) at your local Latin foods market, but if not, you can order chicha on Amazon. If neither is a good option for you, substitute hard cider or kombucha. You want a tart, fruity flavor with a hint of spice.
- ají panca paste - Ají panca paste is another item that is likely to be found at a Latin foods market, and you can buy ají panca paste on Amazon. There really is no substitute. It has a rich, earthy flavor with very subtle heat...
- red onions - Peruvians use a LOT of red onions, but you can substitute yellow, sweet, or white.
- oregano leaves
- ground cumin
- cinnamon stick
- bay leaves
For the Pork Adobo
- cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves, and marinade - Reserve after marinating. Don't discard!
- red onion - Yes, you need red onions twice for this adobo recipe - In the marinade, they get puréed, and in the finished dish, red onion wedges get simmered with the pork.
- rocoto pepper - I buy frozen rocoto peppers at Ruben's - our local Latin foods market. For a few weeks each year, I can get fresh manzano peppers (nearly identical to rocoto). I have also used these rocoto peppers in a jar. A little of these spicy peppers goes a long way. I use one frozen rocoto in the entire pot! If you can't find them, substitute a Scotch bonnet/habanero (if you dare!), serrano, etc.
To Finish and Serve
- chicken broth/stock - If the adobo is dry, add chicken broth or stock. This is not a soup, but there should be a generous amount of liquid.
- rice - Peruvians love their carbs! Serve this with simple Peruvian rice or white rice.
- boiled sweet potatoes - Boil hunks of sweet potato until tender.
- salsa criolla - I love salsa criolla with just about any Peruvian meat or poultry. I didn't make it on photo day, but trust me, it's good.
- Make the marinade - I make the marinade in the pot that I plan to cook the adobo in. This is up to you! Add the marinade ingredients to the pot. Stir well to combine.
- Marinate the pork - Add the pork chunks. I cut them in fairly large pieces as this is a rustic dish, and I'm looking to recreate the dish I had in Cuzco... Marinate at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Purée the marinade - Remove the pork pieces from the marinade, pat them dry, and set them aside. Before adding the marinade to the blender, remove the bay leaves. Pulse until smooth. The peppercorns will require a little extra time.
- Cook the pork - After patting excess marinade from the pork, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on two sides, then pour the puréed marinade over top. Add the bay leaves back in, along with the cloves and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover, and cook about 75 minutes. NOTE: Check the liquid level periodically. Add chicken broth if it appears dry.
- Finish the pork adobo - Add the onion wedges, the rocoto pepper (or substitute), and salt. Simmer covered until pork is tender - about 45 minutes. Check seasoning. NOTE: We witnessed this in Cuzco - Use a ladle to smash the rocoto into the pot to spread the heat around. If you prefer a milder adobo, avoid this step! My husband and I like the heat, and 1 rocoto was plenty! We did smoosh it into the adobo...
- To serve - I like shallow bowls for this dish. If serving with rice, plate a scoop of rice. Add the sweet potatoes (if using), and then ladle pork and onions with plenty of liquid. Garnish with fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, oregano, etc.
What can I substitute for chicha de jora?
The best substitute is hard cider. It has the tartness like corn beer. A dry kombucha is another decent option. If all else fails, use a light lager (like Corona) and add ¼ cup vinegar.
What can I substitute for the rocoto pepper?
Ají rocoto peppers are HOT! If you're not a fan of spicy peppers, omit them entirely. Otherwise, you can substitute jalapeños, serranos, or Fresno chiles depending on your preferred heat level.
If you can't get chicha, all is not lost! Hard apple cider and apple kombucha are good substitutes. You can also use a lager beer and ¼ cup of red wine vinegar.
Leftovers are awesome! I'm cooking for two, and we will get several meals out of the 3 pounds of pork loin. Store in freezer bags for up to 3 months with plenty of the marinade/liquid.
If you're concerned about fishing out the whole spices, wrap them up in a cheesecloth bag for easy removal. The 3 bay leaves are easy to remove from the marinade (return them for cooking). My food processor makes quick work of the peppercorns. You do want to remove the bay leaves, cloves, and cinnamon stick before serving!
I hope this recipe doesn't look intimidating? The marinade takes just minutes to make, and the bulk of the time is inactive. The ingredients may be more challenging to find, but if you're interested in cooking Peruvian food, this is a winner!
Peruvian Pork Adobo (adobo de chancho)
Marinate the Pork
- 16 ounces chicha de jora - see Ingredients in Post for substitutions
- 2 red onions - sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons ají panca paste
- 16 ounces chicha de jora - see Ingredients in Post for substitutions
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic - minced (about 6 cloves)
- 3 pounds boneless pork - cut in chunks; see Ingredients in Post
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- marinade - puréed
- marinated pork chunks - patted dry
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 bay leaves - fresh if possible!
- 2 red onions - cut in wedges
- 1 rocoto pepper - see Ingredients in Post for substitutions
- ½ teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper - to taste
Marinate the Pork
- Add all marinade ingredients to a large pot/Dutch oven. Stir to combine.
- Add the prepared pork chunks. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours. Overnight is ideal.
Making the Pork Adobo
- Remove the pork pieces from the marinade, pat them dry, and set them aside. Before adding the marinade to the blender, remove the bay leaves. Pulse until smooth.
- Wipe out the liquid from the pot. Add vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on two sides, then pour the puréed marinade over top. Add the bay leaves back in, along with the cloves and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover, and cook about 75 minutes.
- Add the onion wedges, the rocoto pepper (or substitute), and salt. Simmer covered until pork is tender - about 45 minutes. Check seasoning.
- To serve: Remove bay leaves, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Mash the rocoto if more heat is desired; remove if not. Serve with rice and sweet potatoes.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.