3 ounces New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
3 ounces guajillo chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
4 cups boiling water, plus 1 cup water
5 pounds boneless pork butt, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1½-inch cubes
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lard or grapeseed oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons cumin seed
4 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon molasses
Lime wedges, to serve
Sour cream, to serve
Fresh cilantro leaves, to serve
Place the chilies in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water and stir. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until the chilies have softened, about 30 minutes. Transfer half of the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the remaining chilies and water and blend until smooth, scraping down the blender as needed. Measure ½ cup of the chili puree into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. Pour the remaining puree into a medium bowl and set aside; do not scrape out the blender jar. Pour ½ cup of the remaining water into the blender, cover tightly and shake to release all of the puree
Place the pork in a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons salt and the chili-water mixture in the blender. Stir to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the lard until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano and cayenne, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ½ cup water and the chili puree. Add the pork and any liquid in the bowl. Stir to combine, then cover the pot, place in the oven and cook for 2 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven. Uncover, stir and return, uncovered, to the oven. Continue to cook until the pork is tender, another 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and set on the stove over medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved ½ cup chili puree and the molasses. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with lime wedges, sour cream and cilantro leaves.
Tip: Don’t use just one type of dried chili. New Mexico chilies provide a mild earthiness and subtle sweetness, while guajillos add a fruity quality and hints of smoke; the combination gives this stew a deep, complex flavor. Make sure to seed the chilies, as the seeds won’t break down in the blender and may add unwanted spiciness. Also, don’t use blackstrap molasses, which has a very potent bittersweet flavor.