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  • Pork and Tomatillo Stew

    Pork and Tomatillo Stew

    My husband Eder and I have always promoted a family atmosphere in our restaurants, so I’ve felt maternal toward some of the young people who have worked for us over the years. Many of them come from Mexico and I think it’s important for them to know how to make Mexican dishes, even if the dishes aren’t necessarily from their region. This hearty stew is one of the many regional Mexican dishes I make for our “family meals” (staff dinners) at the restaurants—so I make this dish for my kids at home and for my “kids” at work as well.

    The inspiration for the stew came from a restaurant where I worked when I was younger. The chef would occasionally make a green chile stew that wasn’t very spicy: a brown stew except it also had tomatillos and chiles. Basically it is lots of peppers with cubed pork and potatoes; in the original, there may have been some fresh corn in there. I definitely put corn in it now because I try to load up the vegetables where I can, which is what moms do.

    Servings & Time

    • Servings 8 to 10 servings
    • Prep 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Cook 1 hour 15 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 5 whole frying peppers
    • 2 whole poblano peppers
    • 2 medium russet potatoes (preferably organic), scrubbed well
    • 1 large Spanish onion, cut into chunks
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    • 1 whole bay leaf (dried)
    • Salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 inner ribs celery, diced small
    • 1 small carrot, scrubbed, peeled, and diced small
    • 2 tomatillos, husks removed, quartered
    • 1 bunch (6 to 8) scallions, roughly chopped
    • 1 bunch cilantro, stems coarsely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • ¼ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 2½ pounds pork butt (preferably Berkshire or other well-marbled variety), cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces
    • 2 cups fresh or frozen organic corn kernels
    • 1 cup canned hominy, rinsed and drained
    • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
    • Queso fresco, for garnish
    • Corn tortillas (or flour tortillas, if you prefer), warmed

    Method

    To roast the frying peppers and poblano chiles on your stovetop: Place one or two peppers directly on the grate over the open flame of your gas burner. Roast, turning them occasionally with tongs, until they are blistered and blackened all over, about 6 minutes.

    Repeat to roast all the peppers and chiles, placing them in a medium bowl as you go. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the peppers steam for about 15 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Peel and seed the peppers and reserve just the flesh. (The roasted peppers can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day).

    Peel the potatoes (reserve the skins) and place in a large bowl of cool water to prevent them from becoming brown; set aside. Place the potato skins and onion chunks in a food processor and pulse until finely minced.

    Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion/potato peel mixture, the bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, and 6 grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and cook until tender, 3 minutes more.

    Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a large pot to blanch the pork.

    In the food processor, combine the tomatillos, scallions, cilantro, garlic, cumin, oregano, and honey and process until finely pureed. Add the roasted pepper flesh and pulse 3 or 4 times, until the mixture is slightly chunky. Scrape into the onion mixture in the pot and return to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

    Meanwhile, add 1 1/2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water. Blanch the pork by adding it all at once to the water and stirring until the meat goes from red-pink to grey-pink, about 2 minutes. Place a colander over the tomatillo/pepper mixture in the pot. Pour the pork and its stock into the colander, straining the stock into the tomatillo sauce; set the pork aside. Return the sauce to medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

    Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Generously season the blanched pork with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add half the pork and cook, stirring, until browned all over. Transfer the pork to the tomatillo sauce. Add the remaining pork to the skillet and brown, adding additional oil if the pan seems dry. Transfer the pork to the tomatillo sauce and gently simmer the stew over medium-low heat for 1 hour, until the pork is tender but not falling apart.

    Cut the peeled potatoes into 1-inch cubes and stir into the stew. Cook until the potatoes and pork are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the corn and hominy and simmer until the corn is heated through, about 2 minutes. Let the stew rest for 30 minutes before serving. (You can cool the stew, cover it, and refrigerate overnight. Gently reheat on the stovetop before serving.)

    Before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning. Fish out and discard the bay leaf. If there is a lot of fat on the surface of the stew, skim some off with a ladle or large spoon. Spoon the stew into individual serving bowls, drizzle with a bit of good-quality olive oil, and top with chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco. Serve with warm tortillas.

© 2014 Alta Editions LLC.