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Home Recipes Nopales with Pork and Red Chile Sauce

Nopales with Pork and Red Chile Sauce


Many people are intimidated by Nopales, or Prickly Pear Cactus paddles, not only because of their appearance in their uncooked state, but also because of their texture and sliminess. Like okra, you will either love them or hate them. Washing the cut Nopales with water several time helps reduce the slime.

Product Featured in this Recipe
Mexican Lidded Cazuela

Nopales with Pork and Red Chile Sauce


Fairly difficult


Fairly cheap

Preparation time
Cooking time


For 6 Person(s)


  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 2 cloves

Final Steps

  • 2 teaspoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 clove(s) garlic, whole
  • 1 pound(s) trimmed pork shoulder
  • 1 small onion, cut in half


  • 8 nopales (cactus paddles)
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vinegar


  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 6 dry chiles (vary according to your taste or availability. A good combination is 2 mulatos, 2 pasilla, and 2 anchos)
  • 2 roma tomatoes

Nopales with Pork and Red Chile Sauce Directions

  1. For the Meat:
    1. Prepare the meat by rinsing it in running water and cutting it into large chunks. Add the meat to a Medium Clay Cazuela, and cover with enough water to cover. Add a small onion cut in half, a whole clove of garlic, and 1 tsp. salt. Slowly bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer the meat until it is tender, approximately 35 minutes.
    2. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the boiling water, reserving the water in the pot and set the meat aside. When the meat has cooled enough to handle, shred the meat by pulling the strands apart with two forks and set aside.
  2. For  the Sauce:
    1. Roast the chiles and tomato on a Comal or dry skillet. To do so, be sure to thoroughly clean the dry chiles with a damp towel before roasting. Remove the stems, ribs, and seeds from the chiles. Make sure your Comal or skillet is extremely hot. If you are using a Clay Comal, remember to bring the heat up slowly letting it gradually heat to the desired temperature to prevent it from cracking. Place the chilies and tomatoes on the comal and turn them gradually with thongs. Roast the chiles for 2 -3 minutes per side make sure to not let them burn, otherwise they will taste bitter. Roast the tomatoes until their skin blister. Place the roasted vegetables in a small pot along with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
    2. Remove from the heat and let rest for approximately 25 minutes.
    3. Blend the chiles and tomatoes in a blender together with 2 cups of the soaking liquid, along with the ground cumin and cloves.
  3. For the Nopales:
    1. While the meat is cooking, prepare the Nopales. To do so, lay the Nopal flat on a hard surface, and hold it with one hand by the bottom. With the other hand, run a thin flexible blade along the pads surface, removing all the spikes and spike bases. Remove the thicker portion at the base of the pad and trim of ¼ inch from the edge all the way around the pad. Julienne the pads into 1 by ½ inch strips and wash them under running water.
    2. To the reserved water used to boil the meat add 2 tsp vinegar and the julienne Nopales. Boil the Nopales for approximately 15 or 20 minutes until they are tender and pale green.
    3. Drain the Nopales in a colander or large strainer and discard the onion, and garlic. Rinse them once again under running water, to help reduce the slime.
  4. Final Step:
    1. Slowly heat the olive oil in the Medium Clay Cazuela over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and minced garlic, and cook until the onion is translucent.
    2. Add the shredded meat, the reserved blended chili, and the Nopales. Add the oregano and season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
    3. Serve over white rice.

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Home Recipes Nopales with Pork and Red Chile Sauce