There may be nothing I like to eat more than pulled pork. Everything about shredded succulent pig meat makes me smile right down to my toes (sorry vegans…). Of course this is a food that I can’t, in good conscience, eat all the time.
This weekend I decided it’s pork time, but instead of my normal bbq style pulled pork, I wanted to switch it up a bit and try something closer to the border. There is a Mexican restaurant in Hawaii called Los Garcias. and, oddly enough, they have the best Chili Verde I have ever tasted! So trying to capture those flavors I fashioned a recipe for Chili Verde Pulled Pork. I believe the phrase ‘best of both worlds’ applies here – worlds being Mexico and Pulled Pork…
Chili Verde Roast Pork:
Pork Shoulder – about 5 pounds
5 Poblano Peppers – seeded and cut into 1” pieces
5 Banana Peppers/Italian frying peppers – seeded and cut into 1” pieces
15-20 cloves of Garlic – about 1 ½ heads – roughly chopped
1 large Spanish Onion – cut in half then into 1/4” slices
2 Tomatillos – cut into segments about the size of a mandarin orange segment
1 large can of Tomatillo puree/sauce (similar to the large cans of tomato sauce)
1 Lime – cut off the ends and cut in half lengthwise
4 Scallions – cut into small pieces
1 cup fresh Cilantro – chopped
3 cups chicken stock – homemade is best, but if unavailable use a low sodium version.
1 tbsp unsalted Butter
Preheat the oven 425’ (f). Heat enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of a Dutch oven or oven ready saucepot. Salt and pepper the pork shoulder generously on all sides. Starting with the skin side down brown the pork on high heat for 4-6 minutes on each side – a stabbing fork or a pair of tongs makes it easier to turn. Transfer the pork to a plate and set it aside.
While the meat browns prepare your peppers, onion, and garlic. Lower the heat to med-high and add the butter to the pot (don’t clean it! You want all of the tasty burnt stuff that the meat left behind) and a splash more olive oil. Gently scrape the bottom to loosen all of the abandoned goodness. Generously salt the butter and oil mix so that the salt spreads throughout your veggies. Add the prepared veggies, pepper vigorously, and let them caramelize. This takes about 20 minutes and you want to stir the pot, making sure to scrape the bottom, pretty regularly.
While you’re waiting for those guys to caramelize prepare the lime, tomatillos, scallions, and cilantro.
When the veggie mixture is nice and wilted and beginning to brown (mostly it will be sticking to the seems of the pot and browning on the bottom) it time to add your other ingredients. Toss in the lime, tomatillos, scallions, and cilantro. Let these all stir together for a minute, then add the tomatillo puree/sauce. Again add salt and pepper.
Place the pork back into the pot, skin side up, along with any juices it released onto the plate. Stir around a bit to loosen some of the veggies from under the meat. Add enough water so that the pork is ¾ of the way covered with liquid. Stir again to incorporate the water – it’s ok to have the veggies and whatnot on top of the meat. Cover the pot and stick it in the oven. You want to baste every 20 minutes or so. After approx 3 hours the meat should be cooked through – I check this by poking the baster in to the meat – not the skin- if it pokes in easily then you’re good to go. At this point, I like to remove the lid and let everything brown off a bit, also giving the skin a chance to burn and become a wonderfully crunchy, salty snack. Don’t let this go for more then half an hour though as the veggies will burn. Leaving the veggies behind, transfer the meat to a cutting board – I like to place the cutting board on top of a few layers of paper towel to soak up any runoff juices, making clean up a lot easier.
(the pork right before I remove the skin to shred)
Carefully remove the skin. Either eat it or discard it. Trim off any extra fat. Using two forks pull all of the meat away from the bone and discard the bone. Again with the forks, pull apart the meat so you are left with large bite sized shredded pieces.
Transfer the shredded pork back into the pot with the veggies and stir together. Turn the oven down to 350’(f) and place the pot back into the oven, just long enough so all the flavors can meld together. I gave it 20 minutes, just enough time to cook a pot of rice (cook according to the package) and prepare my toppings – serve with scallions, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, etc….
The word of the week is patience. When dealing with two weeks of gloomy weather everything starts moving in slow motion. Rather than lingering in the sorrow and mellow feelings which swiftly poke at me when the rain comes, I’m trying to focus the energy on tasks that require slow attention and drawn out conclusions. Focusing on the tedious and getting lost in the monotonous…and of course eating slowly prepared meals. So keep your chins and your forks up. Enjoy!