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Before I talk about this recipe, I wanted to highlight the Menu for Change fundraiser going on for the World Food Program. You can find out information at Steamy Kitchen or Chez Pim. It's an inspiring effort. Another good cause I would point you too is Kiva, the micro-lending site. If you are into the food blogging community, you might join the 101 Cookbooks team over there.
The first time I heard of Rick Bayless was his appearance on Top Chef - Chicago. I was flipping through a Food & Wine book and ran across his Tomatillo Pork Braise recipe, which was originally in his Mexico One Plate at a Time cookbook. Always being one to try a braise, I kept reasonably true to his recipe, split the work for this over two work nights, and loved how it came out. It is deliciously tart and has a real kick.
Tomatillo Pork Braise, adapted from Rick Bayless
2 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 to 1 1/2 lb tomatillos, husked and cut into half-inch slices
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/3 cup pickled jalapeno slices, most seeds removed
1 dried ancho chile, stem and seeds removed, and halved
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup dried Cargamanto Cranberry beans
Preheat oven to 300F.
Place the cut pork into a bowl and add the worcestershire sauce, stirring it around to coat the pork evenly. In a dutch oven, layer the tomatillos, then scatter the garlic, half of the cilantro, jalapenos and ancho chile (ie dried poblano pepper) on top. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp salt. Then scatter the pork evenly over the top. Place in the oven for 3 hours. (Note: my picture shows a few cilantro stalks thrown on top for good measure)
During this time, you can cook the beans if you are doing this dish all on the same day (see note below). Bring the beans to a boil for 2 minutes, then drain. Refill pot with water an inch or so over the top of the beans and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
When braise is done, remove the pork to a bowl with tongs.
Remove any excess oil from the braise vegetable mixture, and then puree in a food processor or blender. Place back in the dutch oven and cook over low heat. Add enough water to bring the sauce to the consistency of a creamy soup (I probably added 1/4 cup or possibly more of water to mine).
Stir in the beans, the rest of the cilantro and the pork and cook on low heat until everything is warm, then serve.
1. Bayless recommends adding a little sugar if the sauce is too tart for your taste. I found it perfect without the sugar, but then I'm a big salsa verde fan.
2. If you don't want to use beans, Bayless recommends placing potatoes, turnips or even carrots in below the meat at the start of the braising stage, and removing before the puree step. If you like beans, I think many variations will work here. Bayless recommends Great Northern. I used a Cranberry bean variant and think Pinto beans would probably work nicely too.
3. Bayless also suggests tossing in some fresh spinach and creme fraiche when pureeing the sauce, which does sound pretty good (I didn't have any on hand)
4. because I was cooking this on work nights, and didn't want to eat at midnight, I split it into two nights. The prep is pretty quick, so the first night I just had to get the braise into the oven and leave it for 3-hours. I placed the meat and sauce mixture in the fridge overnight, in separate containers. The second night, I cooked the beans, pureed and finished the sauce, added the meat and heated everything up together on the lowest heat setting (pot covered).
13 hours ago