Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chile verde

For a Dias de Los Muertos dinner this weekend, I decided to make a good, nourishing pork stew with green chile sauce - or Chile Verde. It's a hearty Mexican-inspired stew, and if you shop smart, it can be inexpensive and provide enough leftovers for several more meals.

There are lots of different ways to do this, but here's the way I did it.

Shopping - I went to the supermarket and they had pork country spareribs for sale. It cost about $3 for about a pound and a half. That's not bad.

If pork country spareribs aren't on special when you market, you can also use chicken thighs, beef chuck roast, turkey breast, or beef short ribs for this recipe. Whichever meat you decide to use, cut it up into cubes about 1" in size, a good size for stew, and season with salt and pepper.

Also on my shopping list were some fresh tomatillos, a bunch of cilantro and a fresh poblano chile.

Poblano chiles are also called pasilla chiles or ancho chiles - although usually "ancho" is used for them when they are dried. If you go to a typical supermarket they are usually in the "specialty" section. They are priced a little higher than bell peppers. If you happen to live in a part of the country where there are Latino or Hispanic markets, you will find a better price.

Even so, one pepper isn't going to break the bank. If you can find it, get one. They're big, and for a small family, one pepper will do the trick. If you can't find them, green anaheim chiles will do in a pinch, or even canned green chiles.

The tomatillos are also available in regular markets or in Hispanic markets. Buy about 10 of them. There are canned tomatillos in the supermarket, but only use these as a last resort. I've had better result from real, fresh green tomatoes. If you use fresh tomatillos, you'll notice they have a kind of papery husk on them. Strip this off, and rinse the fruit to remove the sticky residue.

The first thing you do is take the tomatillos, the poblano chile, and some peeled garlic gloves and half an onion, quartered, and roast them in the oven. I had a jalapeno chile in the fridge, so I added that to the roasting vegetables. Put them on a cookie sheet and slide it under a hot broiler. I usually put foil down on the cookie sheet, so it's not a mess to clean up later.

Let them roast while you prepare the rest of the vegetables. You can use whatever you like for stewing vegetables. This time I used the other half of the onion, chopped; a carrot cut on the diagonal, and a couple or three crimini mushrooms I had in the fridge.

Turn the roasting vegetables every five minutes or so, until they are nicely browned all over. As the garlic and tomatillos brown, take them out with a pair of tongs and drop them into the jar of your blender. Take a big handful of the cilantro and put it in there too.

When the poblano chile is browned all over, pop it into a small paper bag and screw the top closed, and let it sit for a few minutes to steam inside the bag. When you open the bag, you will be able to strip the skin off the flesh of the chile. Open it up, discard the seeds and the inner core, and tear the flesh into shreds and put it in the blender jar along with the other roasted vegetables.

Add some chicken broth to the blender jar - perhaps 3/4 of a cup. Blend the herbs, onions, tomatillos and chiles until pureed.

If it's too thick, add a little water to help it blend up. It will look like this when you're done.

Heat some oil in a dutch oven, and brown the chunks of meat in stages. When they're brown on all sides, take them out and hold them on a plate.

After all the meat is browned, saute the vegetables - the onions, carrots and mushrooms - in the oil remaining in the dutch oven. After they've softened, carefully pour the pureed mixture from the blender into the pot - it will sizzle and spit, so be careful.

Return the browned cubes of meat to the pot, bring everything to a boil, and then cover the pot and baked in a 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

While it's baking, chop 2-3 medium size red-skinned or white rose potatoes into chunks. After the stew has been cooking for 45 minutes, add the potatoes to the pot, cover, and cook for another 20-30 minutes.

The original recipe I adapted this from called for chopped fresh greens like Swiss chard to be added to the pot at the end. But I didn't have any. So instead I put in a couple of handfuls of frozen sweet corn kernels and let that cook for the final ten minutes.

We warmed a couple of corn tortillas and served the stew in bowls. We sprinkled some crumbled cotija cheese on the top. The chiles give a nice mild tingle to everything, while the tomatillos lend a fresh acid note. The potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms provide some variety, and economically stretch the small amount of meat so it can feed a family. I like the mellow touch the cheese adds, at the table.

It was a great meal for a cool autumn evening.

Ingredient list:

1.5 pounds of meat - pork country spareribs, chicken thighs, beef short ribs or chuck roast, or turkey breast, cut into 1" cubes.

1 - poblano chile

10 fresh tomatillos

1 white onion, 1/2 chopped into chunks, the other 1/2 chopped fine

4-6 cloves of garlic

1 jalapeno chile ( it happened to be in my fridge)

1 bunch cilantro, to taste

1 carrot, cut into thing slices

3-4 mushrooms, sliced

2 -3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup frozen corn

Cotija cheese to garnish, crumbled

Corn tortillas


Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I could practically smell the cilantro from the photograph. I am printing the chile verde recipe to try.

Guess what we had for dinner tonight? Pumpkin pie. Really.

Gilly said...

It all sounds wonderful, but I had to opt out at tomatillos and cilantro! Never heard of either of them, and I'm pretty sure my local Tesco's doesn't stock them!

Like I said in my comment on your last post - all your food sounds so wonderfully foreign - and delicious! I do enjoy reading all about it, even if I can't cook your recipes!!

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

that sounds so tasty ... but, alas, I can't have any, as I'm allergic to peppers and pepper oil. :(

But I enjoyed just looking at the pictures and tasting vicariously!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

This is very different than anything I've made, but I know we would love it. I'll have to see what ingredients I can get around here...we are a bit limited.