Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pork Chili Verde

I first published this recipe on Blogcritics as Pork Chili Verde: A Posole-Style Stew.

Tomatillos are plentiful right now at local farm stands, and local potatoes are starting to show up as well.  We had a predicted hurricane this weekend, so I thought I nice, spicy, warm stew would fortify us against whatever weather Mother Nature chose to throw our way.   I found several recipes online for salsa verde and chili verde, and then decided to adapt and create my own, based on what I had on hand and wanted to incorporate.  I’d say this dish was easy for the accomplished cook, but there are multiple steps.  It’s great Football Day food, because most of the prep happens early and then it just simmers and braises all day, filling up your house with an enticing smoky and tart aroma that mouth makes your moth water! I served this stew for friends with some cold Mexican beer and limes, and paired the stew with warmed corn tortillas, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro, light sour cream, and some smoky red chili mole sauce.  I’ll include that easy recipe too.  If you don’t like your food quite so spicy, you can reduce the amount of roasted chilis and sub in some fresh diced, cubanelle or other mild green or yellow peppers.  My husband claims this is going to be his new favorite cold weather stew, so it looks like I’ll be making it plenty over the months to come.  I’m thinking the leftovers would be amazing with some vegetarian refried beans, fried eggs, corn tortillas and cheese as huevos rancheros!  Enjoy!

For the Stew:

About 3 pounds Boston Butt / Pork Shoulder, cut into 1 ½” cubes
Olive Oil
Salt & pepper to Taste
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp cumin seeds
1½ cups roasted Poblano, Anaheim, or Hatch peppers
2 tsp oregano
3 cups reduced salt chicken broth
1 bunch green onions, rough chopped
2 lbs. tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
1 bunch cilantro with young stems, rough chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 15 oz. cans hominy, white or yellow is fine
1 ½ lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1” cubes

In a large braising pot, heat the oil over medium high.  Salt and pepper the cubed pork well and brown it in the oil, in small batches.  Don’t crowd the pork in the pan.  Remove the browned chunks with a slotted spoon or tongs and place in a large bowl.  Once all the pork is browned, remove excess fat from the pan, leaving enough in the pan to brown the onions. Add the chopped onions and cumin and oregano.  Saute until golden, about 4 minutes.  Add about ¾ of the tomatillos and sauté until softened, about 5 more minutes.  Return the pork to the pot, along with any juices in the bowl.  Allow the pork mixture to simmer on medium, stirring occasionally, while you make the salsa verde.  

To make the salsa verde, place about 1 1/2 cups of the chicken stock, the garlic, green onions, most of the cilantro and the remaining tomatillos in a blender.  Process until smooth.

Add two cups of the salsa verde to the pork stew, along with the chilis.  Bring to a light simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover, simmering for about 2 hours. After it has simmered for 2 hours or so, add the cubed potatoes, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes more.  Remove cover, add the drained and rinsed hominy, the remaining salsa verde, and about 1 more cup of chicken broth.  Simmer uncovered until reduced and thick.   Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with some additional fresh chopped cilantro, light sour cream or greek yogurt, queso fresco or other grated cheese, and some red salsa or mole sauce.  This is great with warm corn tortillas, but cornbread or polenta would be nice too.  It screams out for an ice cold beer with lime.  Ole!

For the Red Mole Sauce:

About 2 oz. dried ancho chilis, stems and seeds removed
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 Tbsp Honey
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp cocoa powder
Zest of ½ orange
1 cup water

First, remove the stems and seeds from the dried chilis and slice them open.  Cut out the rough internal ribs and tear the remaining peppers into pieces.  Warm one teaspoon of the oil over medium in a mid-sized nonstick skillet and add the peppers.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Remove the peppers and place in a food processor.  Now add the remaining teaspoon of oil and sauté the garlic until golden, but not browned.  Add the water and simmer for about 1 minute. Add that to the food processor too.  Now add the salt, pepper, honey, coriander, orange zest, cinnamon and cocoa.  Process until evenly mixed.  Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and sugar until it has a nice smoky, hot, sweet and slightly bitter balance.  This will nicely round out some of the acidity of the tomatillos in the stew.  Enjoy!

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