When faced with brutal subzero temperatures this New Year, I went in to survival mode and immediately got to work in simmering up a hearty stew to warm the bellies of my loved ones.
This is an awesome time of year to bust out those cast iron Dutch ovens or crock pots. This cookware is designed to cook tough cuts of meat at a low and slow simmer for several hours at a time until the meat is falling-apart tender. So, on the coldest New Year’s Day ever recorded, I did just that.
I dusted off my old-school, hand-me-down crockpot, turned on the Grateful Dead channel, and prepared one of my favorite stews ever. It's called Pozole Verde, which is pork shoulder braised with tomatillos, poblano peppers and hominy. I love this dish because when you eat it, you are immediately transported to another planet. Yes, it's that good!
You’ll need to spend about 45 minutes on the front end putting this stew together, but once it’s in the crock pot or Dutch oven, you can sit back, relax and let the magic happen.
Pozole Verde (Pork Braised in Tomatillo Sauce with Hominy)
Yield: 4-6 servings
Active time: 40 minutes
Start to finish: 2 hours, 40 minutes for stove top method and up to 8 hours for crock pot method
For the sauce:
2 small onions, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
1 jalapeño, quartered (leave the seeds in if you want more heat)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 pounds pork butt or shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup water
2 poblano peppers, roasted and cut into strips (To learn how to roast a pepper, watch our Owner/Chef Shelley Young's video)
1 can hominy, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1. To prepare the tomatillo sauce, set the broiler to high. Place the onions, garlic, tomatillos and jalapeño on a sheet tray. Place it under the broiler and cook, turning occasionally, until nicely charred.
2. Transfer the vegetables to a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside while preparing the meat.
3. Season the pork with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Sear on all sides until golden brown. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
4. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the cumin. Cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the water, scraping up any bits of fond.
5. Return the seared pork to the pan. Stir in the tomatillo sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 2 hours or until the pork is tender. If cooking this recipe in a crock pot, transfer the contents of the braise to the crock pot after step 4 is complete. Allow to simmer on low all day.
6. A half hour before serving the pozole, fold in the poblano peppers and hominy. Cook until heated through.
7. Right before serving, stir in the cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with warm corn tortillas on the side.
Even though you are equipped with the recipe, it's important I include some tips so when you make this at home, you'll be ready to go.
- When you're buying the pork shoulder (aka pork butt), please make sure it's boneless. I made the mistake of not checking, and it took me extra time to cut the pork into cubes.
- A lot of crock pot inserts cannot be heated on the stove, which is why I browned the meat in my Le Creuset French oven. I know it's any extra pot to clean, but it's totally worth it because of the extra layer of flavor it brings to the dish, so please do not skip this step. Don't have a French or Dutch oven yet? All cookware is 20% off at The Chopping Block in January!
- When you're removing the tomatillo husks, don’t be alarmed by the naturally sticky nature of the tomatillos. I always place mine in a colander, and give them a good rinse which takes care of the stickiness.
- In addition to serving the stew with tortillas (learn how to make homemade flour tortillas here) and fresh cilantro, I like to include crumbled queso fresco (feta cheese works really well too), sour cream and thinly sliced radishes.
- I like serving this stew with a pot of rice and/or black beans, but it’s really great on its own.
This dish will definitely help thaw those winter blues, and make your day a lot brighter. This is also an awesome recipe to prepare when having people over for dinner. Get the stew going in the morning, and by the time people come over it’s ready to go. Trust me, you’ll make a lot of people happy when they sink their teeth into the ever-so-tender pork!
Unfortunately, the cold weather is going to hang around for a little while longer, but you can ward off old man winter by learning how to prepare several other crock pot and Dutch oven-worthy recipes in one of our cooking classes this winter such as:
I look forward to seeing you in one of our kitchens this winter!