T.C.O.B.

My husband has been blowing my little overcooked mind in the dinner department lately.  Last weekend he suggested braising pork on a Saturday afternoon and then eating it the following week, which is really the best way to enjoy a braise.

Saturday morning we headed out to the Oak Park Farmer’s Market for a change of pace, where we found incredibly fresh peppers, plump tomatillos, and mild, sweet onions. Then we spent the afternoon sipping on Tecate cheladas while the perfume of pork and garlic made its way through the apartment and out into the autumn air.

The stew turned out to be one of my all-time favorites.  The spice of the guajillo chiles and the tang of the tomatillos worked perfectly with the pork. Giving the ingredients some time to mingle made the flavors of the finished dish even more wonderful.

This recipe made enough to feed the two of us for two nights, once served as seen below, and once served over sauteed polenta with cheese. We also froze a full quart of the stew for a rainy day.

Pork and Tomatillo Stew

Pork and Tomatillo Stew:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 # pork shoulder (a pork shoulder roast is usually the right size)

2 dried guajillo chiles

2 C. chicken broth

1 large yellow onion, large dice

4 Anaheim peppers, large dice

10 cloves garlic, smashed

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 12. oz can of beer (we used Tecate, but any lager will work)

10 tomatillos, husked, washed, and halved

1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Cut the pork into 1 1/2 inch chunks, trimming much of the visible fat as you go. Set aside. 

Toast the guajillos in a hot, dry pan for about 30 seconds per side, pressing them down with a spatula to encourage them to blister slightly.  Place the toasted chiles in a bowl and cover with very hot tap water, weighing them down to keep them submerged.  Set aside.

Prepare your onion, peppers, garlic, and tomatillos so that they are ready to go.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, sear the pork chunks in olive oil over medium high heat in 2 batches, seasoning them with salt as they brown. Don’t cook the pork all the way through, just brown each chunk on two sides and then set aside on a large plate. The pork will likely release some liquid, which you want to pour off so that the second batch of pork can also sear (rather than simmering in the liquid). 

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, peppers, and garlic, seasoning them with salt as well. Sweat the vegetables for 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly.  If anything begins to stick to the pan, lower the heat slightly and add a few drops of the beer to help release anything from the bottom of the pan.

Braised Pork and Tomatillos

While the vegetables sweat, remove the chiles from the hot water and open them up, discarding all of the seeds and the stems.  Consider using latex gloves for this or just wash your hands thoroughly after to prevent “hot fingers”.  Puree the cleaned chiles with the 2 C. of broth in a blender until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Add the tomato paste and cinnamon to the onion and peppers and stir thoroughly to distribute the paste thoroughly and allow it to toast a little.  Pour in the beer and return the pork chunks to the pan. Scatter the tomatillo halves around the pan and pour over the chile broth.

Increase the heat and bring to a high simmer, then reduce the heat and keep at a low simmer for 1 1/2 hours, leaving the lid askew and stirring every 15 minutes or so.  Add a little more broth or water if necessary as the stew reduces or if anything begins to stick.

After the long simmer, stir in the kidney beans and warm them through.

Serve immediately or cool and save for up to one week in the fridge or 2 months in the freezer.

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