Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Puerco Con Chile Verde

It's been a busy week of Spring cleaning and yard work so I have needed dinner meals that meet the, "We can live on this for three days" test. Which usually means some time spent on the front-end prepping so I can breeze through a few blissful nights of great leftovers. Enter, Puerco Con Chile Verde!

The cubed pork in this dish, combined with this beautiful green chile sauce is cooked for hours in your crock pot to a heavenly tenderness, so plan ahead for the cook time. The piquant tomatillos (wouldn't recognize a tomatillo if it bit you? See one here) gives this dish it's superb authentic Mexican flavor. The heat is mild but full of flavor. Of course, if you want to turn up the heat you can use hot green chile and leave the seeds and core in the peppers. Oh so satisfying, this recipe was also nice to my wallet. Pork butt is $2.50 or less per pound these days and I was able to stretch this into three dinners and a breakfast of huevos rancheros for the two of us.

The first evening I served it with a cold black bean salad (an easy mix of quality canned black beans (drained and rinsed) and chopped sweet red and orange peppers, sliced red onions, sliced cherry tomatoes, a couple shakes of ground cumin, salt and pepper a squeeze of lime and dash of olive oil. The next night we ate it atop arborio rice and the third dinner, we stuffed it in a warmed flour tortilla and finished with a side-salad of greens. I have plans to make this again and freeze half for impromptu Mexican!

This recipe comes from Espino's Mexican Bar and Grill in Chesterfield Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. Who knew I'd find this great Mexican recipe in the mid-West, but here it is, authentic, delicious and memorable.

Puerco Con Chile Verde
Recipe courtesy Artemio Espino, Espino's Mexican Bar and Grill
4-6 servings (?)

3 pounds pork butt, cubed (with fat) (I like to cube just a bit larger than bite-size)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups Salsa Verde, recipe follows
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 small cans green chiles, minced (I use Hatch mild)
1 large yellow onion, chopped

In a large skillet (one with sides), add the pork butt, salt, black pepper, lemon pepper, oregano and garlic (rub it with clean hands all over the meat) and cook for 10 minutes. Add the prepared Salsa Verde to the pan, cilantro, cumin, green chiles and onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 30 minutes, and then turn down to low and cook for 3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes. (This recipe fit into my 30 year old original Crock Pot)

Salsa Verde
12 tomatillos, husks and stems removed (I also rinse them, they're sticky)
4 cloves garlic
2 jalapenos, stems removed (I removed the core and seeds for a milder heat, USE GLOVES)
1 serrano pepper, stem removed (Again, remove the core and seeds, protect your hands)
1 small yellow onion, chopped (reserve half)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt

In a saucepan, boil the tomatillos, garlic, jalapenos, serrano pepper and half of the onions in 2 cups of water until the mixture floats to the top of the saucepan, about 30 minutes. (If you are using a shallow pan, your mixture will not just cook it about 30 minutes, also, I needed more water to cover the mixture) Strain out the pulp and reserve the liquid. In a food processor, (I think you could do this in a blender, in batches, just watch so that the heat doesn't make the mixture explode) blend the pulp with the remaining onions, the cilantro, salt and 3/4 cup of the reserved liquid. I used the remaining reserved liquid to make the rice the next day.

The result of all your hard work is several meals of this delicious tender pork in a bright and beautiful sauce, bringing authentic Mexican flavor right to your table. Enjoy!

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