After the enthusiastic response to my post on Momofuku's Pulled Pork, I found that I am not alone in my love of pig. Pork fans, add this recipe to your porcine list. Take a little time this weekend to blister tomatillos and braise some pork, and your whole house will smell like Mexican comfort food.
I trust Rick Bayless. He has earned a good rep by making great food at Frontera Grill in Chicago (sadly a place I've never had the chance to eat.) Plus, he has a nice face... somehow that open smile makes me trust him even more.
As Californians, my little family eats a lot of Mexican food. When we go out to eat, 9 out of 10 times it's Mexican, though we don't cook much Mexican food at home. We do make tacos, and the occasional carnitas, but rarely more. A few weeks ago our neighbors loaned us a copy of Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen and I knew I needed to spend some time in my kitchen with Rick.
I was right to trust the guy - Bayless' recipe for Tomatillo Braised Pork was a total hit. Succulent pork, a spicy/sweet stew, oh yeah!
INGREDIENTS adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
for the sauce:
- 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- fresh Serrano chilies, stems removed and roughly chopped (Bayless calls for 5 chilies, I only used 2 and there still was a nice kick)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
- salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoon, plus more for seasoning the meat
for the stew:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pounds pork country ribs, or pork shoulder, cut into large chunks*
- 2 small white onions, finely chopped, plus some round slices for garnish
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 8 medium boiling potatoes, quartered
*We've made this recipe with a few different cuts of meat. I preferred our batch that used pork country ribs and some pork belly. So rich and succulent.
Preheat your broiler. Husk and rinse your tomatillos, then scatter them on a broiling pan. Stick pan with the tomatillos a few inches under the hot broiler and cook for a few minutes until the skins are blistered. Then turn the tomatillos a bit to makes sure they are roasted on all sides and beginning to soften nicely.
Put the roasted tomatillos in a blender. Blend until smooth, then add cilantro leaves, 3/4 cup water, and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend again. Your sauce is done!
Prep your pork, by cutting it into big chunks and seasoning all sides with salt. Leave the fatty bits on - they really make the flavor here.
In a large heavy bottomed pan, (I used my Le Creuset Dutch Oven), heat olive oil over a medium/high flame. Add the chunks of meat to the pan in a single layer and brown the meat on all sides. ( I needed to brown my meat in a couple of batches because I couldn't fit all the meat in the pan at once.) This whole process should take about 20 minutes.
Set aside browned meat.
Preheat oven to 325.
Pour out all but a thin coating of oil from your dutch oven. Heat over medium. Add onions and saute for about 4 minutes until they become translucent. Add the garlic and cook a few more minutes. Pour the tomatillo sauce into the pot. Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a roiling boil. Add the pork. Stir. Cover the dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Cook for 45 minutes until the pork is just tender. Skim off any fat that has risen to the surface.
Add the chopped potatoes to the pot. Submerge the potatoes in the sauce. Return the whole thing to the oven and continue cooking for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Before serving, take the pork out of the stew. Remove any fatty bits and pull the meat apart into bite sized bits. Stick the meat back in the warm stew and serve.
Garnish with cilantro and round slices of raw onion. We served our stew with corn tortillas, guacamole, slices radishes, beans, and rice.
Serves 4-8. With just a simple side salad, the stew is a hearty meal for 4. If you serve this along with a bunch of nice side dishes, this can easily serve 8.