Santa Fe Pork and Black Bean Stew

Soup and StewBudgetGluten-FreePork Shoulder

Hearty pork and black bean stew with pork shoulder, onions, red bell peppers, jalapeños, garlic, cornmeal, black beans, spices, molasses, and a splash of lime juice. Perfect for a cold day!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Summer has finally decided to vacate the premises and the cool weather has set in here in Northern California. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to the cooler days, especially when they bring rain (which we desperately need right about now). Things slow down, not as much needs tending to, and I can curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and a blanket and read a book without any guilt over taking it easy.

Most of the garden has given up its fruit, it won’t need any tending until the new year. A few jalapeños and poblanos remain, clinging on to catch what rays of light they can of the rapidly shortening days. I picked a couple a few days ago to include in this pork and black bean stew.

This stew is decidedly southwestern in ingredients and flavor (hence the name “Santa Fe”). Chunks of pork shoulder are browned and then slowly cooked with onions, garlic, red bell peppers, jalapeños, molasses, and a spice mix with cinnamon, cumin, and oregano. We include some corn meal to help thicken the stew. Black beans are added near the end of cooking, and the stew is served with cilantro and splashes of lime juice.

Just writing about it makes me want to make it and eat it all over again! (It’s really good.)

Santa Fe Pork and Black Bean Stew Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

We are using canned black beans in this recipe, but you could easily use dry beans, if you cooked them ahead. See our recommendations for good brands of canned black beans, and instructions on how to cook dry beans on our Black Bean Burrito Bowl recipe.

This recipe makes a relatively small batch for a stew (serves 4). You can easily double the recipe to make a larger batch.


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 pounds of pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 jalapeño chili peppers, less or more to taste, seeded, stems removed
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (less or more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced, about 3/4 cup
  • 2 long 1-inch wide strips of orange zest (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans (we recommend Bush's or S&W premium), liquid included
  • More salt to taste
  • 1 to 2 limes
  • Cilantro for garnish


1 Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over the pork pieces and let sit while you prep the other ingredients.

2 Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a thick-bottomed stew pot on medium high heat. Add the pork pieces to the pot and brown them on all sides.

3 Once the pork pieces have browned, add the chopped onions to the pot with the pork. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the onions are translucent, about 7-10 minutes more.

4 As the onions are cooking, work on the garlic spice mixture. Place the garlic and the jalapeños in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until minced. Then add the oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and cornmeal and pulse everything until ground.

5 Once the onions are cooked, add the spice mixture to the pork and onions. Add the molasses, bell pepper, orange zest (if using), and water to the pot. Bring it to a simmer and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover and let cook until the pork is completely tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

6 When pork is tender, remove the orange zest and add the black beans to the pot and cook for 20 minutes more on low heat.

7 Remove from heat, and stir in the lime juice. Add more salt to taste.

Serve garnished with fresh cilantro. Great with warm corn tortillas.

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Pork and Black Bean Stew

Showing 4 of 34 Comments / Reviews

  • Natalie

    I just finished enjoying this really delicious dish and will definitely be making it again. My husband said this may one of the best dishes he’s ever eaten. I know the orange peel was optional, but am so happy I included it, it was a subtle but distinctive background flavor that really brought it together. The only thing I did differently was after bringing everything to a simmer in step 5, I put everything other than the lime juice and cilantro in to a slow cooker and cooked it on low for 6 hours, stirring every hour or so. I added the beans at the 3 hour mark, but needed to stir about every half hour for the last two hours as the beans were sticking to the bottom a bit. Really awesome dish, thank you!


  • Jim

    I used “bone in pork ribs” that were labeled as coming from the shoulder (only one of them had bone in). Anyway, worked like a charm. Served over rice, and took leftovers to work because it was awesome and I had to share

  • Foodiewife

    Wow! I converted this recipe to my Instant Pot– searing the pork in three batches, then the onion. 35 minutes later, I added the black beans and brought to a simmer with the saute feature for a few minutes. I did add a little masa, at the end, to thicken the stew. I’m glad I reduced the jalapeno to one, and half of the cayenne pepper– as this had some heat, but not too much so that I wasn’t breathing fire! The pork was fork tender and I loved the notes of cinnamon, orange and cumin. I served this over farro, to keep this healthier. Excellent recipe and thank you!


  • Holly

    Do you think cutting up a pork loin roast would work? All the shoulders are so huge at the store. Thanks!

  • Michael Berz

    Great recipe with fantastic flavor. Added two potato and used two whole not seeded jalapeñ​o chili peppers. Next time I would add at least one more potato and few carrots It was delicious, easy to make and will definitely make again. .

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