With the holidays in the rear view mirror it’s time a slow down a bit, take stock of plans for the new year, and to enjoy some slow-cooked, cool weather dishes. These are some of the simplest and most satisfying dishes to make and are great done ahead and then easily served for those hungry football fans that seem to show up during the month of January. Over the coming months I’ll be posting recipes for some great beef and chicken dishes but right now I’m jonesing for some traditional Chile Verde…one of my favorite rustic Mexican pork dishes. Give me a bowl of this with some warm corn tortillas and a couple icy margaritas and I’m one very happy guy. (Speaking of tequila, I have a new, recently discovered favorite but more on that later.)
A crock pot makes easy work of these but, even without one, a heavy duty casserole dishes works just as well and you want to make plenty since its better the second day and also freezes really well. It also makes a great gift for those chile head friends of yours.
This version is right in middle of the heat scale….not so hot that the first bit causes your ears to sweat but hot enough so half way through a bowl full you’ll get that satisfying Mexican burn.
Tortilla Factory makes great, thick, Artisanal style corn tortillas that go perfectly with this dish. These were initially only available at Gelson’s but I’ve started to notice them at other specialty markets as of late.
Serve with cold beer or icy margaritas and you’ve got a serious Super Bowl meal. Salud!
Recipe – Chile Verde (Mexican pork stew)
Note: Serves four
» 1-/2 pounds Tomatillos
» 4 each Poblano chiles
» 2 each Serrano chiles
» 1 large bunch Cilantro, stems removed
» 4-4-1/2 pounds Fresh pork butt
» As needed Kosher Salt & Pepper
» 1/3 cup Canola oil
» 2 each Large white or yellow onions, peeled chopped
» 8 each Garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
» 2 TBS Dried Mexican oregano (look for the Mexican version…it makes a difference)
» 2 TBS Ground Cumin
» 3 Cups Chicken or beef stock
» 1/3 cup Honey
Remove the papery skins from the tomatillos and rinse. Cut in half and place cut side down on cookie sheet or pan and place under a broiler until lightly browned. Remove from pan and place in blender.
Place poblano and serrano chiles on sheet pan and return to broiler and heat, turning until blackened on all sides. (Alternatively, you can roast them on a grill, or as I often do at home over an open flame.) Place chiles in paper bag, seal tight and allow to site for 20 minutes. Remove from bag, scrape off blisters skins and remove stems and seeds. Place in blender with tomatillos then add cilantro and blend until no longer chunky. Set aside.
Trimmed-Pork.. Leave some fat on!
Trim all excess fat from pork. Don’t get too crazy here because fat translates into flavor so you don’t want to trim every last bit off. Just any visible thick pieces. Cut into approximately 1-1/2” pieces. Place pork on tray and generously sprinkle all sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Don’t be bashful here with the seasoning. It may seem like a lot but it will leach into the broth as it braises and be fine.
Don’t crowd so they brown
In a large, heavy bottom braising pan ie. Le Creuset brand, heat ¼ cup of the salad oil over medium high heat. When hot, using long metal tongs sear the pork on ALL sides until well browned. Leave space between the pieces so they can brown instead of steam. This is a slow process so make yourself a drink before you start and be patient during the process making sure the pieces are well browned as this caramelization is the most important step in ensuring that you’ll end up with a rich, flavorful stew.
Crispy brown bits of goodness… pick a lean one taste
Be sure to watch the bottom of the pan that it doesn’t start to turn black. If so, turn heat down slightly…dark brown caramelization in the pan is good…not black. Add oil as need in order to facilitate the browning. As meat is browned, place in bowl to make sure you don’t lose any juices.
Onions absorb caramelization
Drain all about a couple tablespoons of oil from the pan and return to a medium flame. The bottom should look pretty brown and funky but just add the onions and garlic and cook over medium low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes. The liquid the onions release will loosen and absorb all the caramelization in the process.
Magical animal goodness
Next add the tomatillo puree, pork with juices, chicken stock, cumin, oregano and honey and stir to combine well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer and simply allow to cook uncovered for about 2 hours or so until the pork is tender and cuts easily with a fork. I usually can’t wait that long to try it so I started eating a piece of pork every 30 minutes after the first hour until its finished.
Just add margarita
As I mentioned it’s better the second day although you may need to thin it down with chicken stock as the sauce tends to tighten up as if sits in the fridge. My favorite condiments are sharp cheddar, red onions and cilantro. Salud!