While doing one of those “clean the fridge” routines recently we were inspired to take the basics of one of our favorite dishes, Chili Verde, and create a totally new dish. The results were inspirational and delicious enough for us to want to share it with our readers!
Tomatillo Pork with Greens is a combination of all of the usual ingredients one would expect to enjoy and savor in a traditional Chili Verde, but featuring pork in two ways, namely pork shoulder and salt pork… with the addition of greens of choice to make a hearty and filling one-dish meal. We happened to have a bunch of collard greens in the crisper so it was designated to go into the pot! The freezer produced a 12-ounce piece of lean salt pork begging to be used creatively. Who were we to refuse…!
Tomatillo Pork with Greens
Remove the ribs from:
1 large bunch greens of choice
Chef’s Note: A favorite of ours is collard greens, but other greens work wonderfully as well. Mustard greens are particularly good in this dish and, because they are more delicate, require less cooking time once they are added to the dish.
Stack the trimmed leaves, roll together tightly and cut into 1/2″ strips:
Rinse well, drain and set the greens to the side.
Trim of excess fat, cut into 3/4″ – 1″ cubes, and set to the side:
1 – 3/4 lb pork shoulder
Slice into 1/4″ – 3/8″ thick pieces:
1 12-oz piece of salt pork
Cut each slice into 1/4″ – 3/8″ strips:
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and add the strips of salt pork. When the water returns to the boil blanch the pork for 12 minutes then drain through a sieve or strainer. Set the pork to the side:
Chef’s Note: Blanching the pork removes the excess salt contained in the meat for preservation and begins the rendering process.
Place the pork in a skillet or sauteuse over moderately high heat, rendering the fat and cooking the salt pork until it is crisp and golden brown. Remove the cracklings with a slotted spoon and set to the side:
To the fat in the pan add:
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
Sauté the onion for several minutes, then add:
5 whole peeled garlic cloves, microplaned
Continue cooking until soft and translucent, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the flavor-filled brown bits:
To the pan add:
1-1/4 lb tomatillos, husked and quartered
Stir to combine then add:
the reserved cubed pork shoulder
Cook until the pork is no longer reddish or pink:
2 jalapeño peppers, sliced with seeds and membranes intact
Stir to combine, then add:
the reserved salt pork cracklings
2 tsp dried oregano, rubbed
Chef’s Note: Rubbing the dried herbs between the palms of your hands releases the essence of the herb used, making a more flavorful dish.
Stir to combine, then add:
2 – 1/2 C green sauce or tomatillo salsa
Chef’s Note: Freshly prepared green sauce or tomatillo salsa is often available in both Hispanic markets and restaurants, which is where we are able to purchase it by the container here in our neighborhood.
Stir well to combine:
Bring to a simmer, cover, adjust the heat and slowly braise for approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Remove the lid and add:
the reserved greens
Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the greens are tender but not overcooked.
Adjust the seasonings, if necessary, with:
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serve piping hot over rice in warmed bowls. This hearty dish is rich with flavor, wonderfully satisfying, filling and, simply said, delicious… Bon Appetit!
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