Pork and Green Chili Stew

Pork and Green Chili Stew

2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin, preferably from toasted seeds

12 poblano chilis

3 tablespoons corn oil

2 cups finely chopped yellow onions

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 boneless pork butt, about 4 pounds, trimmed of fat and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

5 cups chicken stock, homemade or reduced-sodium canned chicken broth

1 1/2 cups tomatillo salsa, homemade or a good-quality purchased brand

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces (4 to 5 medium) red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

12 ounces (6 medium) carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces

To toast cumin seeds, put 1/3 cup or so of whole cumin seeds in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until the seeds are fragrant, lightly browned and beginning to pop, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not overtoast or the cumin will be bitter. Transfer to a bowl and cool. Store the toasted seeds in a jar and grind (in a spice mill or in a mortar with a pestle) just before using. One tablespoon of whole seeds will yield about 2 1/2 teaspoons ground.

In the open flame of a gas burner, under a preheated broiler or (for this quantity) on a medium-hot grill, roast the poblanos, turning them, until the peels are lightly but evenly charred, about 10 minutes. Steam the poblanos in one or two closed paper bags for at least 10 minutes, until cool. Rub away the burned peels, stem and core the chilis, and chop them coarsely.

In a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic; cook, covered, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes. Stir in the pork. Add the stock, poblanos, salsa, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon pepper and the cumin. Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Add the potatoes and carrots, return the stew to a simmer and continue to cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and beginning to fall into shreds, another 40 to 50 minutes. Adjust the seasoning.

The stew can be served immediately or it can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to three days.

Variation: The heat of poblanos can vary. If you believe yours are on the mild side (taste one) or you just know you will want a very spicy stew, cover a heavy medium skillet with foil. Set it over medium heat, add 2 to 4 serrano chilis, and roast, turning them occasionally, until blackened and soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and stem the serranos, finely chop them, and stir them into the stew along with the potatoes and carrots.

A no-potatoes, no-carrots version can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator and rewarm over low heat, stirring often, until hot.


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