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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.

que rico

que rico

Makes 10

• 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.

cubing pork shoulder

cubing pork shoulder

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.

searing the meat

searing the meat

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.

half-way seared

half-way seared

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.

almost all together

almost all together

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.

after having simmered a while

after having simmered a while

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.

blanching

blanching

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.

toasting

toasting

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.

cook it down

cook it down

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

good size

good size

Mix the masa, water, and salt by hand until fully combined, nicely moist, and soft.  Form the dough into balls.

between the sheets

between the sheets

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.

harder, harder!

harder, harder!

The harder you squish, the thinner they get.

rough edges

rough edges

You are not a factory.  Likely the edges will be a little rough, and that’s okay.

plastic wrap keeps things from sticking

plastic wrap keeps things from sticking

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.

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Roasted Root Vegetables

Zach was inspired to follow the seasons and pick up a vegetable that he had never cooked with before, and based on the recommendation of Frank at Whole Foods he roasted the celery root with an assortment of other hearty veggies.  Try this out, and we recommend that you serve it with shrimp and grits and jalapeño cornbread.

Serves 4-8

1 celery root

1 extra large parsnip

6 small carrots

1 red bell pepper

A handful of assorted pearl onions (white, yellow, and red)

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1/2 tsp. of dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

delicious and raw

delicious and raw

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Wash all your vegetables, and begin by peeling the parsnip and the celery root; you can use a potato peeler with the parsnip, but you will need a knife to cut away the external hard parts of the celery root.

ready to roast

ready to roast

Clean and deseed the bell pepper, and then cut into 8 strips.  Truthfully you don’t have to peel the carrots, just make sure they are cleaned really well and remove the stem.  Peel the onions.

in arakawa pottery, no less

in arakawa pottery, no less

Chop all the vegetables into manageable pieces (for example, Chef Zach turned the parsnip into little logs). Toss with the olive oil, garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, but make sure you don’t overcook the vegetables; test for doneness with the poke of a sharp knife.

Paella al Estilo del Chef Zach

The foundation of all Western rice-based entrees, paella is Spain’s crown dish.  Regional varieties offer some with all seafood, some with surf and sky, some even with rabbit.  But the three things that unite all paellas are saffron, fresh ingredients (from sources as local as possible, preferably), and an open flame.  Cooking on a stove top instead of in the oven results in the desired texture of rice with just slightest bit of firmness.

Makes 8-10

48 oz. of organic chicken broth

3 cups of arborio rice

3 cups of water

3 bone-in chicken thighs (pull the skin off yourself; you want them skinless, but save the money)

1 lb. of large, cleaned, peeled, raw prawns

18 farm-raised black mussels

12 farm-raised little neck clams

1 1/2 cups of white wine

12 oz. of frozen peas

12 oz. of kielbasa

5 organic carrots

5 stalks of organic celery

1 large onion

1 large red bell pepper

6 whole garlic cloves

4 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs. of saffron threads in 1 cup of warm water, having soaked for at least 3 minutes

2 tsp. of kosher salt

1/2 tsp. of cracked black pepper

caramelize the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion

caramelize the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion

Roughly chop the carrots and celery.  Peel and halve the onion.  Cut one of the onion halves in half again, and put this with the carrots, celery, and garlic cloves in a large stock pot with 2 tbs. of olive oil over medium heat.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to caramelize.

add the stock and saffron

add the stock and saffron

Deglaze the stock pot with the wine.  Add the chicken stock, saffron, saffron water, and 3 cups of water, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and let simmer for no more than 30 minutes; too much time can cause the vegetables to make the stock bitter.  Strain the vegetables when done and discard the solids, leaving just the liquid.

brown the chicken

brown the chicken

In a large paella pan, heat the remaining 2 tbs. of olive oil on medium heat.  Put the bone-in, skinless chicken thighs on the surface and begin to lightly brown the meat, about 5 minutes on each side.  In the meantime, remove the seeds of the bell pepper, then evenly dice the pepper and the remaining onion.

add the rest of the fresh veggies

add the rest of the fresh veggies

Move the chicken to the side of the pan, and add the bell pepper and onion.  Cook for about 7-8 minutes until the onion is translucent and the pepper softened, but you don’t want to brown these yet – if you see them starting to brown, reduce the heat.

add the kielbasa

add the kielbasa

Cut the kielbasa in 1″ chunks, and add to the paella pan.  Let cook for an additional 4 minutes.

saute the rice

saué the rice

Remove the chicken from the pan so that it is easier to stir in the rice.  It is essential that the rice grains all have the chance to be evenly coated by the pan oils, and ingredients need to be evenly mixed.  Nestle and somewhat submerge the chicken back into the rice, evenly spaced, after the rice has been sufficiently coated.

add the stock

add the stock

Pour in 2 1/2 to 3 cups of the stock.  Bring back to a simmer, still on medium heat, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is about three-quarters of the way cooked.  Keep adding stock through those 15 minutes, with 1/2 to 1 cup at a time to maintain the rice continuously submerged.

dump in the frozen peas

dump in the frozen peas

When the rice hits the three-quarter mark, add the frozen peas.  Also add the seafood, slightly nestling it similar to how you placed the chicken.  Whatever stock remains, add that as well.  Cover the pan with foil (it may require a few pieces to span the width).  Let sit for 10 minutes more, then remove from heat and let sit for an additional 5 minutes, still with the foil cover.

voilà

voilà

Peel away the foil and serve immediately.