Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pork Chile Colorado

Continuing our binge of Mexican culture, today we're delving into the roots of chili.

The modern definition of chili is a liberal interpretation of the classic dish.  You can get vegetarian chili, Cincinnati chili (on spaghetti noodles LINK), and white chili (with cannellini beans LINK).  Basically any flavorful stew is considered chili nowadays.

If you go down to Texas and ask for a "bowl of red," you'll get a simple dish of beef and a spicy sauce (no beans or veggies).  LINK to a tasty recipe  This is similar to the Mexican dish "Carne Con Chile" which translates to meat with peppers.

One popular variant of Carne Con Chile is "Chile Colorado," which doesn't refer to the US state... but rather peppers turning red or blushing.  Any meat can be used, but today we will use pork because this is traditionally used by todas abuelitas debajo la frontera. 

We are using this recipe as a starting point:  LINK

Make no mistake... this is a spicy recipe, so feel free to dial back the intensity using hatch, anaheim, poblano, or red bell peppers.

  • 2 - 4 pounds of pork shoulder or loin
  • 5 - 10 dried ancho peppers (roasted poblanos)
  • 1 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (roasted jalapenos in the world's tastiest goo)
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of broth
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Canola oil
Start by removing the stems and seeds from the anchos and rehydrating them in a pot of boiling water (for 15 minutes).

Next chop the onion and garlic, reserving it for later.

Take the pork shoulder/loin and butcher it into 1" (25 mm) cubes.  They will shrink slightly during cooking, and you're aiming for big-bite-sized pieces.

If you use a loin, it can be a tricky piece of meat.  I was noobsauce, but used this LINK to wise up.

There are two sections, dark red rib meat and pink center loin.  There's a layer of fat and silver skin between these two.  You can separate the two sections and remove it... but I didn't do this (since we're slow cooking).  The tough fatty layer on the outside was removed, but the thin layer of rib fat is going to bring some tastiness to the party.

Put some oil in a big pot and lightly sear the pork with some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin.  Add the onions and garlic when the pork starts to lose its moisture.

While this is cooking away, move to the chile sauce.  Drain your anchos and put them in a blender with the chipotles, salt, pepper, and oregano.  2 cups of broth/water will loosen up the mixture.

Combine the sauce, meat, and veggies base.  Add 2 additional cups of broth/water.  Allow to simmer for 1-2 hours.

Serve over your favorite starch (we used polenta/grits since maize is the undisputed staple of Mexican cuisine).  Rice, potatoes, or even spaghetti noodles will work ... but only when you're in Cincinnati.

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