Pork Chile Verde

It's Cinco de Drinko!, Drinko de Mayo!, or whatever you like to call the 5th of May.  I'm not quite certain what this holiday even celebrates.  All I know is that it's a great excuse to make some margaritas and guacamole, sit outside and enjoy this amazing weather we're having here in San Francisco.  

John and I are a bit sporadic about celebrating Cinco de Mayo, but this year we decided it might be fun to go all out and make one of his favorite childhood dishes, pork chile verde.  We pretty much winged the recipe going off of very vague instructions from his Dad, relying on our instincts and countless trips to the taqueria to get the right flavor profiles.  The results were much better than we could have expected.  

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The salsa verde is bright and tangy, packed full of garlic with just the right amount of heat from a jalapeno.  We used pork shoulder for this recipe, which is a great cut of meat for stewing or braising.  It has a lot of marbling which keeps the meat from drying out while it's simmering in all that salsa verde goodness.  This recipe makes quite a bit, so make sure to invite all your friends over for a Mexican fiesta!  Oh yeah, and it also makes a great midnight snack, good for soaking up that bottle of tequila you polished off earlier.

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Pork Chile Verde

Ingredients:

6 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2-3 tablespoons canola oil

1 yellow onion

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

20 tomatillos, approximately 2 1/2 lbs.

6 cloves garlic

1 shallot

1 bunch cilantro

1 jalapeno, seeded

juice of 2 limes

In a large bowl coat cubed pork shoulder with 1 tablespoon each of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.  While the pork is marinating make the salsa verde.

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Peel and wash tomatillos to remove the sticky substance that is left on the surface after peeling.  Cut into quarters and put into a large blender.  The blender should be large enough to hold over 6 cups of liquid.  If you don't have a blender that large, make this in two batches.  Puree tomatillos.  Then add in garlic, shallot, 1/2 tablespoon salt, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime juice.  Puree until there are no large chunks remaining.  This will make a ton of salsa verde, approximately 6 cups.  You will only need about 3 cups of the salsa to braise the pork, so you can serve the rest with tortilla chips or save in the fridge until you make your next batch of pork chile verde.  

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Once the pork is done marinating, remove from the refrigerator and let come up to room temperature.  Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with canola oil.  Heat the oil on medium high heat and sear the pork in batches until the meat is lightly browned but not cooked all the way through.  Once all the pork has been seared, sautee a chopped onion in the remaining pork fat until translucent.  Deglaze the pot with the chicken stock, scraping up all the good brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Put all of the pork back into the pot and cover the pork with 3 cups of the salsa verde.  Cover and simmer on medium low to low heat for at least 3 hours until fork tender.  Serve on warm tortillas with a little bit of the remaining salsa verde, cotija cheese, guacamole, and fresh radish.

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