Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pork Chile Verde Stew II

We decided to try out the Pork Chile Verde Stew again, but using pork butt from the farmers' market instead of the loin we used before. I had suspected that I'd need to adjust the technique because pork butt is so much tougher and fattier than loin, so I didn't even start there. Instead, I looked to carnitas for a tip. We love, love, love carnitas and found a good recipe for it on Epicurious (though, of course, we've modified it over time). Cook's Illustrated recently did an article on carnitas (though they called it 'Mexican Pulled Pork', which I just found irritating) and their technique seemed like it might be even better. My plan was to use the carnitas oven technique and then add the pork to the soup instead of crisping it as you would for carnitas. Wow, was it good! And the great thing is, if I did it next time, I would use half the pork for chile verde and the other half for carnitas--two delicious meals with one effort. Since that might be pork overload at one time, it would be easy to freeze the stew for a cold night (or even the carnitas, I suppose, though they're tastiest fresh). Another alternative would be to freeze half the pork in its glaze to make another batch of stew later, making it really easy to put together for a weeknight meal.

There was a lot of fat in this stew, so next time I'd make sure to trim all of the exterior fat on the pork butt (also called a shoulder roast). You'll be able to remove some of the fat after the oven stage and then I removed more today once it had solidified in the refrigerator. You'll have guessed, however, that we don't exactly demonize fat in this family!

3 1/2-4 lb boneless pork butt, well trimmed and cut into 2 inch chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (Cook's didn't call for coriander, but I love it)
1 small onion halved and peeled
2 bay leaves
2 TBSP juice from one lime
1 medium orange halved and juiced (keep the halves)
2 c. water

1 medium onion, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
3 TBSP plain flour
12 oz green salsa or to taste (we're using Emerald Valley)
1 can tomatillos with liquid, chopped (optional)
2 large cans hominy, drained and rinsed
6 cups low sodium or homemade chicken stock or water or a combination
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
More lime juice as needed for brightness
Salt to taste

  1. Place the oven rack in the lower third and preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Combine all the ingredients including the orange halves in a large ovenproof Dutch oven. The liquid should barely cover the meat
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat on the stove, stirring once in a while
  4. Once the ingredients have come to a simmer, cover and move to the oven
  5. Cook, stirring once at the halfway point, for about 2 hours. The meat should be very tender
  6. Remove pot from the oven and take the meat out of it and set the meat aside
  7. Discard the bay leaves, onion and orange halves
  8. Now, reduce the remaining liquid (and fat) over high heat until it's thick and syrupy (8-12 minutes)
  9. Remove the liquid from the pot and set aside
  1. Heat the olive oil in the same Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion. Cook over until very soft and golden
  2. Add the garlic and cook 3 more minutes. Don't let the garlic brown
  3. Add half of the pork to the pot (if you want the other half for carnitas or another batch of soup) and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook for a few minutes so that the pork is lightly browned in spots
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the pork, onion and garlic and stir together. Let cook several minutes
  5. Take about 1/4 cup of the stock or water and mix well with the flour-coated ingredients
  6. Defat the syrupy glaze you reduced earlier and add half to the soup (the other half will go with the carnitas)
  7. Add the salsa, tomatillos, hominy, bay leaves, remaining stock/water and cilantro if using. The water should cover the ingredients by 1-2 inches. I think I used about 6 cups stock.
  8. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to one hour and then taste. Adjust the seasonings and determine if you think more cooking time would be beneficial.
  9. Serve with warmed corn tortillas
DIRECTIONS CARNITAS (this is Cook's method, which I haven't tried--alternatively, mix the pork and the glaze together and fry in a skillet over medium high heat until crispy and delicious)
  1. Set the oven on broil and make sure there is a rack in the lower-middle
  2. Take the remaining pork and shred it using two forks
  3. Fold in the rest of the syrupy glaze
  4. Spread pork on a wire rack set over a baking tray
  5. Broil until meat is crispy on the edges and nicely browned on top
  6. Turn over and brown the other side
  7. Serve immediately or freeze for later

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