Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pork Chile Verde

I've been making chile verde for years (one of my fav Mexican comfort foods), and have always used canned tomatillos and green chiles for the sauce because they're quick and easy. But, after reading through a number of recipes in cookbooks and online, I decided to take the extra step of roasting fresh tomatillos and peppers in hopes of achieving some extra depth of flavor in this dish. Well, it really paid off. I was especially inspired by a rendition of chile verde from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (I used their technique of dredging the pork with flour, salt & pepper and adding green bell peppers to the mix). As with most stews, this tastes even better the next day. 

If you're in a hurry, there's my tried and true quick and easy version - still delicious, but which uses canned green enchilada sauce and canned green chiles instead of the fresh stuff

3 1/2 - 4 lbs. of pork shoulder/butt, trimmed of fat & cut into 1 1/2 - 2" cubes
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 Anaheim chiles
2 poblano chiles
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. tomatillos (about 14)

2 onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded & diced
4 jalapeno peppers, seeded & sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. Mexican oregano
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. ground coriander
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
32 oz. (4 cups) low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water

1. Trim the fat off the pork and cut into 2" cubes. Season with a good amount of salt and pepper.

2. Preheat oven to 400F. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse with water. Place the tomatillos, Anaheim & poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet & lightly rub with vegetable oil. Place in oven and roast about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. 

3. Remove the peppers and tomatillos from oven and let cool until they can be handled. De-stem, and remove as much of the outer charred skin and seeds from the peppers as you can (don't worry if there are a few seeds or charred skin left on the peppers). Place them into a blender or food processor along with the roasted tomatillos and any juices from the roasting pan; set aside. 

4. Heat 1/4 cup of veggie oil over high heat in a large stock pot or cast iron pot. Add the pork and brown (do not overcrowd the pork pieces - cook in 2-3 batches if necessary). Remove browned pork to a plate & set aside.

5. Add onions, green bell peppers & jalapenos to the pot and saute until the onions are translucent and very lightly browned; add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. 

6. Add the sauteed onion-pepper-garlic mix to the roasted tomatillo-pepper mixture in the blender and puree/pulse for 5-10 seconds until just blended.

5. Add the pork back in the pot, then add pureed pepper-tomatillo mixture, chicken stock, water, cilantro, Mexican oregano, cumin, ground coriander, bay leaves, black pepper, kosher salt, and sugar. Cook for at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until pork is super tender. 

6. Garnish with fresh cilantro & Mexican blend cheese. Serve with rice and refried beans on the side.

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them to remove the sticky film. 

Poblano chiles, tomatillos, and Anaheim chiles tossed with vegetable oil and roasted for 30 minutes at 400F. 

2 onions, chopped.

Chopped fresh cilantro, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and green bell peppers.

Pork shoulder.

Pork, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Roasted tomatillos & peppers.

Brown the pork.

Saute the onion, green bell pepper and garlic in the pork drippings.

Place the roasted tomatillos & peppers (stemmed & seeded) in a blender. Add the sauteed onion/bell pepper mix. 

Pulse the mix briefly until pureed (not to the point of baby food - you still want some texture).

Add the browned pork back to the pot.

Add the pureed veggies, chicken stock, and water.

Stir in the cilantro and spices. Simmer, partially covered, at least 2 hours or 
until pork is tender.

Great with rice and refried beans on the side.

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