Chili Verde

Green chili is not well known in the Eastern US; I first encountered it on a business trip to Santa Barbara, California many years ago. The dish contrasts the natural sweetness of pork with the citrusy tartness of tomatillos rounded out with the moderate heat of jalapeños. Served over Mexican-style rice with a bit of queso fresco, a dollop of sour cream, or a sprinkle of shredded Monterrey jack or cheddar it makes a simple, satisfying one-dish meal. Or you can dress it up with some frijoles de la olla and perhaps a bit of guacamole for a festive meal. For variety, add a bit of pickled nopales or pozole. This is basic peasant food which is as good as it gets for my taste.

As presented this recipe serves two generously.

Ingredients

Garlic

2 or 3 cloves to taste

Jalapeño chilies

2 or 3 to taste

Onion, coarsely chopped

1

Tomatillos

1 28-ounce can, drained

Mexican oregano

15 ml (1 Tbsp)

Oil or lard

30 ml (2 Tbsp)

Pork sirloin or shoulder cut into 25 mm (1 inch) cubes

400 – 500 g (about 1 pound)

Pork, vegetable, or chicken stock

150 ml (2/3 cup)

Salt and pepper

To taste

Method

Place the unpeeled garlic cloves into a cast iron Dutch oven over moderately high heat and roast, turning from time to time until slightly blacked and soft. When cool enough to handle, peel and set aside.

Blacken the jalapeños under a hot broiler or, as I do, with plumber’s torch. Wrap in a towel and let cool. Using the towel, rub off the charred peel. Halve each pepper lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and placenta (pith). Chop coarsely and set aside.

Place the garlic, jalapeños, onion, tomatillos, and oregano into a food processor. Process to a smooth puree. Set aside.

Heat the oil or lard in the Dutch oven until just smoking. Add the pork cubes, working in batches if need be to maintain a single layer. Brown thoroughly on all sides and remove to a bowl.

Add a bit more oil to the pan if needed to have a light coating on the bottom and reheat to nearly smoking. Dump in the tomatillo puree all at once. Stir while it sizzles, scraping up any meat stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the reserved pork and stock, turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer until the meat is thoroughly tender, about 30 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot over rice.

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