Photo of Mexican braised pork with pumpkin by WW

Mexican braised pork with pumpkin

Total Time
1 hr 20 min
30 min
50 min
Spend a little extra time in the kitchen tonight to make this fabulous Mexican specialty. It's a hearty serving that truly satisfies. The pumpkin and chiles are the base for the rich pumpkin mixture. Ancho chiles are poblano chiles that have ripened on the vine to a deep red color, then are picked and dried. They are lightly smoky and mildly spicy—its spice level varies by chile, but ancho chiles generally have a mild to moderate heat. Arbol chiles are bright red, small, and skinny. They have an earthy flavor and are very spicy. Do not touch hot chile peppers with your bare hands.


Corn oil

2 Tbsp

Uncooked lean pork tenderloin

1½ pound(s), cut into 2-inch pieces

Table salt

tsp, or to taste

Black pepper

tsp, or to taste


1 medium, white, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices

Chicken broth

1 cup(s)

Orange juice

cup(s), freshly squeezed from 1 orange

Fresh thyme

oz, use 2 fresh sprigs

Bay leaf

2 leaf/leaves

Sea salt

1¼ tsp, divided

Uncooked pumpkin (sugar or sweet pumpkin)

3 pound(s), use a whole 3 lb pumpkin

Dried ancho pepper

1 item(s), large, seeded, soaked in hot water until soft

Sun-dried hot chile pepper

2 item(s), such as small arbols, seeded, soaked in hot water until soft


1 small, chopped


2 clove(s), chopped

Ground cumin

½ tsp

Black pepper

¼ tsp, or to taste

Unsalted roasted pumpkin seed kernels

2 Tbsp, toasted


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Cook pork until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes; remove pork from skillet and set aside.
  2. Add onion to skillet; cook until dark brown but not burned, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth, orange juice, thyme and bay leaves to skillet; scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits of food on bottom of skillet.
  3. Add pork back to skillet. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Uncover skillet, increase heat to medium and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated; set skillet aside.
  4. While pork cooks, place a large pot of water over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and bring to a boil. Slice pumpkin into 10 pieces and scrape out seeds. Place pumpkin in water and boil until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside; drain remaining water. Scoop pumpkin flesh out of peel with a spoon; mash pumpkin and set aside.
  5. Place all 3 chile peppers, onion, garlic, cumin, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, black pepper and reserved pumpkin cooking liquid in a blender or food processor; process until smooth and stir mixture into mashed pumpkin until well mixed.
  6. To serve, place 1 3/4 cup of pumpkin mixture on each of 4 plates; top each with 1 1/4 cups of pork and 2 teaspoons of toasted pumpkin seeds.