This is so unbelievably good you will suddenly think … oh no, maybe we should keep it for ourselves and order pizza for the company tonight …. something I hear from my husband regularly … Seriously, not many ingredients, a bit of prep time at the start, and then nothing but relaxing while your kitchen smells so inviting.
Preheat oven to 350 and get out a heavy bottom saucepan suitable for cook top as well as braising. Total prep, and cooking time should be about 3 hours – give or take a bit as you like.
1 pound tomatillos – husks removed
4 -5 whole serrano chiles (to your taste)
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 medium bunch fresh cilantro – tough stems removed
sea salt to taste (and not much!)
2.2 lbs (1 kg) pork shoulder, or butt, cut into 2″ pieces
oil or lard
Honestly, I don’t often use lard, but in this case I think it just adds such a depth of flavour and gets such a crisp finish on the pork pieces that I think it is worth it.
In a large pot of boiling water bring tomatillos, onions, chiles and garlic back to a boil. Boil just until tomatillos begin to crack – watch carefully as you don’t want them to fall apart. Once they have started to crack scoop out all ingredients to your blender and reserve the cooking liquid in case you need to thin out your salsa verde. I like to just leave it sit in my blender at this point to cool down – NEVER blend hot items unless you leave a spot for the steam to escape.
While the tomatillo mixture is cooling – prep your pork.
Toss pork cubes in a bag with flour and salt – shake as much flour off as possible and allow to sit. In small batches of hot oil or lard (using the same saucepan you boiled the vegetables in) brown pork pieces on all sides, removing to a plate to keep warm while you work with the rest of the pieces.
Pour out the remaining oil or lard – again BE VERY CAREFUL with hot oil or lard.
Now that your tomatillo mixture has cooled down, blend it, adding some of the cooking liquid if you need to so it thins out a bit. Once you have it blending – push the cilantro down through the lid opening – you want to blend it enough to have a liquid, but not so much you lose the color of the bits of cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
All chiles are so unique for the heat level – I like to add just 1/2 the whole cooked chile – seeds and all. Then taste it, and if you like more heat go ahead and add it. IT IS SO MUCH EASIER TO ADD HEAT THAN REDUCE IT! (Just ask my unsuspecting family – they often get handed a spoonful of something …”Here just taste this” … and then run for something to cool them down.)
Once you are happy with your salsa verde, pour it over the pork and place the whole thing in the oven to cook for at least 2 hours – check it at that point, adding more liquid as necessary and even turn the heat down if you need to. By the time you eat it (I like to allow 3 hours total) the meat should be melt in your mouth tender and delicious enough for you to also wonder if you should feed your guests pizza…
Our Fathers Day Mexican Fiesta was perfect with this, Spanish Rice, Roasted Cauliflower, Asparagus with lime, feta and almonds, Nationalist Guacamole and Mexican Black Beans. – try it yourself!