I’m easing myself back into writing with an easy one. One of my best friends introduced me to this recipe from the sous-vide god himself,
Look at this guy. He’s won a James Beard award for his column and book and he just screws around in his kitchen making burgers. He’s living the dream, one water bath at a time.
Sous-vide is immersing an air tight packaged item of food in water and cooking evenly to your preferred temperature. Once it’s complete, you flop it onto a hot skillet to sear and it’s immaculate. Most steakhouses with any inkling of a good reputation are doing this now, and if they’re not, they’re idiots.
Back to work. My favorite new recipe is Pork Shoulder Chili Verde. When I glanced at the recipe that my friend sent me, I felt like an old woman with very little teeth would make this for her family come harvest season. Not me in my kitchen.
Lesson 1. Don’t let a recipe scare you. Ever. Most failures still taste good.
To quote Kenji, “We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”
Wrong Kenji, I know. Shhh.
Kenji claims that this recipe, a reduction of pepper puree, broth and cubed pork shoulder, finds better depth in a combination of peppers: poblano, jalapeño, etc.
I said screw it and used tomatillos and hatch chili peppers. You know why? Because I have a pepper guy who meets me in a grocery store parking lot and gets me the best hatch chili peppers this part of the U.S. They’re absolutely delicious and worth the fact that I have to admit I’m purchasing pepper paraphernalia in a parking lot.
My modified recipe is as follows:
2-3 pounds pork shoulder, cubed to bite size
10-15 hatch chili peppers
10-15 tomatillos, husked and cleaned (these make an excellent sub for a starch, as the sugars in the fruit tend to stick together)
6-8 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil (or your preference)
1 large onion
2 cups cilantro
1 tablespoon cumin
1 quart chicken stock
- salt cubes of pork. let rest at least one hour (salt needs time to melt into your meat)
- scald the crap out of your peppers until they’re blackened (you can do this one of three ways: over a gas burner, on the grill, or under a broiler for ten minutes). place in a covered bowl to steam for 5 minutes. peel the skin entirely under running cool water. dispose of seeds unless you like getting punched in the face with heat. once the peppers are seedless and stemless, dry with a towel and chop roughly. Then, throw them into a food processor or blender.
- Toss tomatillos and garlic in some oil and salt. Place all contents on a baking sheet wrapped in foil. Set your broiler to high and place the sheet inside the oven for about 10 minutes, taking care to flip tomatillos halfway through. You want to try to achieve a little bit of browning for smokiness. Once they’re done, add these to your processor/blender, along with all of the oil/juice in the foil. Add one cup cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, and pulse about 10 times until semi-smooth.
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Place dutch oven on stovetop and add oil, heating until its smoking point. Place half of your pork into the dutch oven and don’t touch it for 3 minutes, or until it releases from the pan, browned (love that Maillard reaction). Add the rest of your pork and all of your onion, stirring frequently until the onions have softened (if you’re concerned about the pork being done, don’t worry. It’ll braise in the oven soon). Add your cumin and incorporate by stirring. Take a big whiff, because this is one of the best smells in the world.
- Add the broth to your pork mixture in the dutch oven. Add your pepper puree. Bring to a boil and place in the oven, leaving your lid slightly ajar. Don’t touch it for three hours.
- Once time’s up, bring it to your stovetop. I like to bring mine back up to a boil and simmer it for about 30 minutes in order to reduce it a bit more, but you can choose whatever consistency you like.
- Season with salt/pepper/cilantro. Serve with tortillas, lime, cheese and sour cream. Die of happiness.
And since all of you weirdos are thinking that this trending, newfangled “Instant Pot” thing is a “new” invention (and definitely isn’t just a freaking pressure cooker), see Kenji’s adapted version so you don’t have to waste 3 hours being pretentious, like me.
This recipe tastes way better left over, by the way. So don’t be afraid to cook it for yourself and consume it over the week.
Thanks for reading.