Chili Verde

This is my version of a recipe from my friend, Lex. It is important not to crowd the meat when cooking so it browns. Charring the chilies provides flavor as well. The underlying flavors are from the cilantro and tomatillo. Using the cilantro stems avoids discoloration and the soapy taste some people pick up from cilantro leaves. Eat this as a stew or cook down until fairly dry and in tacos. This dish is poco picante. Adjust the number of jalapenos and serranos to make it hotter or milder.

INGREDIENTS:

For the Stew:

2-3 pounds medium to large tomatillos, husked (running them under very hot water makes this much easier if they are sticky under the husk)
5 cloves of garlic- peeled and de-germed
2 large jalapeno chilis, slit lengthwise and seeded
2 large serranos chilis
3-4 large Anaheim chilis
2-3 pounds pork (country spare-ribs, butt, chops-whatever is on sale but not too fatty)
1 large brown onion, peeled and diced
Olive oil as needed
1 cup loosely packed  chopped cilantro stems, or to taste
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For Garnishing:

1 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 bunch scallions, sliced in the diagonal

METHOD:

Preheat the broiler and line a sheet pan with foil. Rub the foil with a bit of oil. Place the tomatillos on the sheet pan.

Split the chilis lengthwise and remove the seeds and ribs. (Leave some in if you like it spicy.)

Put the chilis and the garlic cloves on the sheet pan with the tomatillos, cut sides down. Spritz with a little olive oil if you have some in a spray bottle. This is for flavor and uniform cooking. Omit this step if you don’t have the spritzer.

Broil the above about 5-6 inches from the element until they are blackening, but not burned. Remove from the broiler and set aside to cool.

Cut the pork into even sized pieces, 1/2 to 1 inch. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large heavy pan or pot (14 inch sauteuse or cast iron Dutch oven) heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add some of the pork and brown it. Do not crowd the pan or the pork will only steam and not develop color and crust.

Remove the pork when it is browned and place in a bowl. Add more pork to the hot pan and continue to cook in batches until it is all done.

Add the onions to the pan, and a bit more oil if needed.

While the onions are coloring and softening, put the tomatillos, chilis, and garlic, along with the cilantro stems, into the blender and puree them. Some chunks are fine. When the onions are softened, add the meat back into the pot along with any juices that accumulated.

Pour the contents of the blender over the meat and onions, then add about 3 cups of water to the blender and swirl it around to get any sauce left behind. Pour this over the meat as well. Add liquid to cover the contents of the pot by 2 inches. Use stock, water, what have you.

Bring the pot to a steady simmer and cook until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, around 3 hours.

Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

CHEF NOTES:

Try to find some Hatch chilis in season, or look for Anaheims with thick walls. If you want to add a little more depth of flavor you could add some toasted and ground cumin seed and some toasted dried oregano. Serve with rice and corn tortillas and some lime wedges.

YIELD: 4-6 servings