Pork Chile Verde with Spanish Rice and Homemade Tortillas
After a few days of super spicy food, we’re taking a break from the heat but not from the flavor. Mexican food is stereotypically thought of as spicy, and while not all Mexican food is spicy, it is all well-spiced. The chile verde sauce here is warm, but not at all hot. If you have a Hispanic market nearby, take advantage of it to pick up some authentic garnishes like queso Oaxaca and Mexican sour cream.
• For the pork:
5 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
4 cups of chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. of tomatillos
2 white onions
5 Anaheim peppers
1 bunch of cilantro
2 jalapeño peppers
1/2 cup of corn masa
1/4 cup of unsalted butter, plus 3 tbs.
6 garlic cloves
1 tbs. of coriander seeds
1 tbs. of ground cumin
2 tsp. of Mexican oregano
Salt and pepper to taste (but likely you’ll use at least 3 tbs. of salt in the chile verde sauce)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Peel the papery skin from the tomatillos and wash them, then put the tomatillos and all the peppers on a sheet pan. Roast for 20 minutes. Let cool for about 2 minutes, then put the peppers in a large zippered storage bag. This will sweat the peppers, which helps loosen the skin. Leave in the bag for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the bag, cut the peppers in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and peel away the skin; discard the seeds and skin.
Add the roasted tomatillos, peppers, and cilantro leafs without the stems, to a food processor. Blend until smooth.
Cut the pork shoulder into 1 1/2″ to 2″ cubes. If cut too small, the pork will disintegrate as it cooks. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium-high heat in a dutch oven. Add the pork pieces but only a few at a time so as not to overcrowd them.
Sear the meat on two sides. While the meat is searing, dice the onions and finely mince the garlic.
Remove the meat from the dutch oven and transfer to a bowl; set aside temporarily. Add the onion and garlic to the dutch oven, and reduce heat to medium-low. The onions will look deep brown almost instantly because they will deglaze the pan – don’t worry, they’re not overcooked. Cook for 5 minutes until slightly tender.
Add the meat and any juices accumulated at the bottom of its bowl, the chicken broth, and the tomatillo-pepper-cilantro blend to the onions and garlic in the dutch oven. Bring the heat up to medium, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
While working on reaching a simmer, grind the coriander, cumin, and oregano together with a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Add the spices to the dutch oven and let simmer on the lowest heat possible, uncovered, for 3 1/2 hours.
Make a roux with 3 tbs. of butter and the corn masa. Blend well with a fork in a bowl. Test for saltiness and add salt to taste before adding the roux to the dutch oven. Stir in the roux when there are 10 minutes left of simmering to go.
• For the rice:
2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of long grain jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups of freshly blanched, peeled, and chopped tomatoes (about 4-5 plum tomatoes)
1 cup of fresh corn off the cob
1 white onion
1/4 cup of salted butter
5 garlic cloves
2 tbs. of tomato paste
1 tbs. of kosher salt
1 tsp. of Mexican oregano
Wash the rice by putting the rice in a glass bowl, place in the sink, and let cool water run into and out of the bowl. Use your fingers to agitate the rice. The water will be milky in the beginning but will eventually run clear. Drain the rice with a strainer to remove all water.
In a medium pot, boil water to blanch the tomatoes. Once the water is boiling, drop in the tomatoes and let sit for 2 minutes. The skin will start to peel itself off. After 2 minutes, remove the pot from the stovetop and put in the sink to run cold water into and out of the pot. When the tomatoes are touchable, remove the skin. Slice the tomatoes in long quarters in order to remove the core and the seeds. Dice the flesh in 1/2″ pieces and set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add the rice and toast for 6-7 minutes until the rice is slightly golden brown.
While the rice is toasting, mix the chicken broth and tomato paste together in a large measuring cup. Pour this into the rice once it is toasted. Add the corn, diced tomatoes, salt, and oregano. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to low heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, depending on the brand of rice.
• For the tortillas (makes 20-24 depending on how big you roll the balls):
4 cups of corn masa
2 2/3 cups of water
1 tbs. of kosher salt
Butter for greasing the pan
Mix the masa, water, and salt by hand until fully combined, nicely moist, and soft. Form the dough into balls.
If you don’t have a tortilla press, wrap the backside of two baking sheets with plastic wrap and squish the masa balls between these.
The harder you squish, the thinner they get.
You are not a factory. Likely the edges will be a little rough, and that’s okay.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat, using just a little bit of butter at a time to grease the pan for each round of tortillas. Cook the tortillas for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Don’t overcrowd the pan, but since you’ll be going through a lot, keep the waiting tortillas on plastic wrap so that they don’t stick to any surfaces and prematurely tear.
Serve with garnishes of queso Oaxaca, avocado, lime, and Mexican sour cream.