11 March 2008

Pork and Tomatillo Stew

It’s been a long winter here, as I’m sure it’s been in a lot of places this year. Snow, and ice, then more snow, and lots of wind. Cold cold temps. And oh! I had 3 colds and the stomach flu, all within 5 weeks’ time. Usually our winters are rather mild in this part of the country, so to say I’m sick of winter at this point is an understatement.

I decided to battle the icky winter weather in my cooking. Done with soups and stews and roasted root veggies, instead I’ve been making seafood and tacos and delicate meat dishes and big crunchy salads... I needed more inspiration, though, so found myself cruising my clipped collection of recipes again this past week.

And then I came across this fab recipe, cut out and tucked away months ago. Just reading it, and I was absolutely salivating at the sound of it. A thick pork stew, lots of veggies and tomatoes and tomatillos, mmm. I was definitely in the mood for a nice, spicy, comfy stew. So back I came to the winter weather cuisine.

If you haven’t cooked with tomatillos, this is a nice way to start. Tomatillos are the green tomato-looking things in the papery husks, and can be found in several Latin American dishes. They taste similar to tomatoes, but much more tart and more firm than a ripe tomato. They hold up well in this stew, and give it a nice balance in taste.

One thing I will say: I was expecting a very spicy stew, and I was surprised at how mild it ended up. If you like spicy, be liberal with the hot sauce at the end. I skipped the potatoes/tortilla chips to be a bit healthier; I think the veggies in this recipe can be played with quite a bit so feel free to add/delete as you see fit (well, except for the tomatillos, those are kinda important here). Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention: Hubs prepped the stew for me, and cut the pork chunks much too small. So I didn’t shred the pork. Sigh. He tries to be helpful bless his little heart.

Pork and Tomatillo Stew
(From Food & Wine, October 2007)

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 lb. boneless pork loin, cut into 3-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
2 large celery ribs, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 Anaheim chile, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. mild chile powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
Pinch of dried oregano
2 c. chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 c. of carrot pieces (dice)
2 (6-oz.) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in. chunks
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 lb. tomatillos; husked, rinsed, and cut into 1-in. chunks
Hot sauce
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Corn tortilla chips, for serving

In a medium casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on 2 sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add the celery and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.

Add the diced chile, garlic, chile powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos, cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the pork to a plate and shred with two forks. Meanwhile, simmer the stew over moderate heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir the shredded pork into the stew and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with a few tortilla chips.


Elle said...

Wow, that looks good! I have yet to try cooking with tomatillos, but this looks like a great place to start. And even though it's officially spring, it's snowing right now, so I'm still in comfort food mode. Thanks for posting!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Well, I am heading into the weather doldrums and this brightened my day! I have *heard* that tomatillos are being sold here!!