My buddy Emily pointed me toward a blog that one of her chef friends started recently as a way to test drive his recipes before he publishes them in a cook book. The recipe that immediately caught my eye is this one for Chile Verde. Emily made it and gave me a few modification tips. Since I don't use alcohol in my cooking, the beer had to go. I also left out the orange peel/juice and used lime juice instead at Alan's request. When I went to the store to buy peppers, there were no Poblanos in sight, so I had to settle for Pasillas. I left out the Maggi, an optional ingredient. I did find that at the store and in reading the label found that it's basically just MSG, something I avoid if possible. It wasn't spicy enough for Alan's taste, so I added a bit of cayenne and chipotle flakes at the end.
I loved it that way - he still says it's missing that elusive "something". He spent two years down on the border of Texas and Mexico and has strong opinions about the perfect batch of chile verde. He deemed it very good, just not exactly what he had in mind. I have to say that I loved it even more the second day after the flavors had mingled in the fridge. I melted some cheese in it and scooped it up with chips. Sloppy chip dip, but utterly delicious :), and the texture was great. I am posting this recipe the way I made it, which deviates somewhat from BDL's posted recipe, so if you're a purist, look at both of them and make your own variation. I can foresee more batches in our future, and I plan on planting tomatillos in our garden this year.
Chile Verde, Take 1
3 pounds pork, cut into 1 inch cubes, taken from the shoulder, butt or country ribs (I used boneless ribs)
1 T. salt
1 T. black pepper
6 T. flour
6 T. vegetable oil
2 onions, cut in large dice
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds tomatillos, husks, stems and cores removed and cut in quarters (about 8-10 tomatillos)
1 T. ground cumin
1 T. dried Mexian oregano
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups chicken stock
3 Anaheim chiles, seeded, de-veined and cut into 1/2" squares
3 Pasilla or Poblano peppers, seeded, de-veined and cut into 1/2" squares
1/2 a yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2" squares
1-2 jalapenos, seeded, de-veined and minced
1/2-3/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Additional spices added to taste at the end: salt, fresh cracked pepper, chipotle flakes, cayenne pepper, cumin and cinnamon.
Put the flour, salt and pepper in a bag. Flour the pork in three batches by shaking until well coated. Preheat a braising pan over medium high heat (I used an oval magnalite pot that has about an 8 quart capacity). Add 4 T. oil and heat it up until the air above it appears to shimmer. Add as much pork as you can fit without the pan being overcrowded, and brown it well on all sides, then remove and reserve on a plate until all of the pork is done. Add more oil as necessary. Then add the onions and cook until translucent, add the garlic and cook for another minute.
(This is where I deviated, totally by accident - not paying attention - to his prep instructions). Add the peppers into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften, then add the chicken stock, and stir well, scraping any lovely brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatillos, cumin, oregano, cinnamonstick, and pork and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to bring it to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
I prefer my sauce without big chunks other than the meat, so at this point, I fished out the pork chunks with a slotted spoon, then used an immersion blender to loosely puree the peppers, tomatillos and onions. Add the pork back in, taste the seasoning and correct as needed, add the cilantro and lime juice, and simmer uncovered for another 30-45 minutes. We had guests that arrived later in the evening, so I left it on the stovetop at a low simmer for another 2 hours, and the texture and flavor were even better.
We ate this with a side of black beans (seasoned with a splash of lemon juice and a dash of cumin), cilantro lime rice, shredded cheese, and hunks of tortilla to scoop it up. Alan has informed me that real Mexicans use tortillas instead of forks. The texture of this sauce would be fabulous as an enchilada sauce or to smother burritos, and I imagine that it would freeze quite well. I can see this being a big batch thing to do in the summer when I have oodles of produce and freezing it for a special winter treat.