In Honor of the Battle of Puebla

For my first “new recipes” meal, I decided to go for some Latin inspiration.

One of B’s favorite dishes is chili verde.  There’s this great Mexican restaurant in town called Maria’s Cantina that does both fabulous carnitas and chili verde. As I already make a pretty mean carnitas, I thought this would be a good opportunity to play with the chili verde. Turns out the dish is New Mexican, not Mexican, which is why Rick Bayless refers to it the way he does.
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Tomatillo Pork Braise with Pickled Chiles

  • 1 1/2 pounds of tomatillos husked, rinsed and cut in to 1 inch chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 4 canned pickled jalapeños, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 inch cubes.
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound (dried) peruano/canary or cranberry  beans, cooked and drained (save the cooking liquid if you need some liquid)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 275. Toss the pork with the Worcestershire sauce.  In a dutch oven, brown the pork pieces in a little vegetable oil in batches to avoid overcrowding the meat.

Remove the meat.  Add the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeños and half of the cilantro. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt.  Put the pork back over the vegetables and cover.  Cook for 2-3 hours, checking every hour or so to make sure there is still liquid in the pot.  Use the bean liquid if you need to add more.

When pork is “fork tender” remove it from the pot and blend the vegetables and liquid until smooth using either and immersion blender or regular blender.  Return everything to the pot. Add the sugar and cooked beans.  Cook until everything is warmed through.  Serve with remaining cilantro as a garnish.

The recipe comes from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless & Deann Groen Bayless.  Their recipe calls for using canned white beans and a slow cooker, but I like the cast iron dutch oven and the home cooked beans.

I decided to service it over Mexican rice, and though I have to go to the source for those of us who don’t have and abuela, Diana Kennedy.
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Arroz a la Mexicana

  •  1 1/2 c. long grain rice
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 8 oz. tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 3 1/2 c. chicken stock

Soak the rice in hot water for 5 min.  Drain and rinse with cold water and let drain in a strainer for a few minutes.  Heatoil to a cast iron skillet with a lid.  Add drained rice.  Fry  for about 10 min, until the rice just starts to color.  Stir rice to make sure it cooks evenly.  Drain any excess oil.

Blend the tomatoes, onion and garlic until smooth.  You should have about a cup of liquid.  Add the puree and the chicken stock to the rice.  Taste for salt.  Cook covered until the liquid is absorbed (about 10 min).

Remove rice from the heat.  Add a terry cloth towel over the rice and cover with the lid.  Let sit 20 minutes.  Fluff before serving.

This recipe comes from The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy.  Her recipe also suggests adding thin sliced carrots or peas, which would be even better, but this makes a pretty standard version of Mexican rice.
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The rice was good, but I have to admit, it didn’t pair particularly well with the chile verde.  We tried it again later over polenta, which was a lot better, but that’s a recipe for another post.

That’s my meal for May.

Cheers,

M

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