Monday, September 26, 2011

Chili Verde For The First Time

I made a mistake today:
I made a dish I’d never done before and I forgot to get any pictures other than one right before I started eating. I hate it when I do that.

Let me start at the beginning…

This past Saturday we went to a friend’s wedding up in Ventura, CA. Our good friends Sal and Aimee let us hitch a ride along with them so we got to visit with them, too. Once at the wedding we all sat with Ken and Barbara and their young son, Jack. Unfortunately, Jack began to get a little vocal during the ceremony so Barbara took him outside the building and she consequently missed much of the ceremony.

The reception and dinner was held immediately after the ceremony in the same room. One of the meat courses was a sliced pork roast. Sal brought up the idea that the leftover pork would make a great chili verde. He went on to describe the chili verde his grandmother makes and it really sounded pretty special. While I’ve made more than a few gallons of chili con carne I’ve never made chili verde (green chili for non-Spanish speakers) so I paid close attention to what Sal said. I asked a few questions along the way and got an idea for how the dish is made.

After dinner we weren’t fast enough to snag any of the leftover pork but by now I couldn’t let that stop me. I hit the grocery store Sunday afternoon.

We already had four pork chops that needed to get cooked and to them I added a couple small pork roasts that were on sale. About 1 3/4 pounds of tomatillos, two white onions, two bunches of cilantro, a number of garlic cloves, three jalapeno peppers, and a handful of Anaheim chilies gave me a bunch of good stuff to work with.

For the pork chops I de-boned them and diced the meat into somewhat large chunks. Those chunks got tossed into an oiled skillet in a couple of batches to brown. The second batch was accompanied by a diced onion. When the pork chunks were browned they went into my big pot where some cans of chicken stock and some water were heating up over a low flame.

On the two small pork roasts I roughly boned them and cut the meat into big chunks, about four inches square, or so. These chunks also went into the skillet to brown. The bones still had quite a bit of meat left on them so after they were browned everything went into the pot to begin simmering. Somewhere along the way I dropped in about five or six peeled and smashed garlic cloves.

While the pork was happily simmering I peeled the husks off the tomatillos and washed them. After cutting them in half I put them on a foil lined pan with the cut side down. After adding the jalapenos and a handful of garlic cloves (unpeeled), the pan went under the broiler until the tomatillo skins were browned.

Moving right along… After the tomatillos cooled they went into the blender in a couple batches. Each batch also got a bunch of cilantro, washed with most of the stems chopped off. Also included were the jalapenos (seeded) and the garlic that had been roasted (now peeled). The pretty green slurry from the blender got dumped into the pot with the simmering pork and now things were looking really good.

Somewhere along the way Fayme volunteered to roast the Anaheim chilies for me. Since she enjoys it and also does it better than I do, how could I refuse?

After the chilies cooled off a bit I peeled them and took out the seeds and stem. The chilies went into the blender and got a very rough chop there. At least it was as rough a chop as a blender can give. We’ll just say they weren’t pureed.

Now it was time to relax and let the pot simmer and tenderize the pork. Somewhere along this step is a good time to taste the chili broth to check for spices. I added some salt, oregano, and cumin. Oh, and the second onion, diced.

When the pork got tender I fished out all those larger chunks and shredded them with a fork. The bone pieces got the meat pulled off and shredded, bones were discarded.

Put the meat back into the broth, add a bit of corn starch to thicken things up, we’re ready to eat.

Thanks, Sal!

I’m glad you put the idea into my head to make this dish, it really turned out good. When I make it again I’ll see if I can remember to take more pictures so the story will be a little more interesting.

Happy Cooking!