Just when you thought that all I was going to post on here was my outdoor adventurism, I have dug up a little photo food journey. I have a favorite dish I like to make that takes quite a bit of time. I thought I would share it with you and speak about it. One of my favorite dishes to make in the last couple of years is Pork Chili Verde and Spanish Rice, both from scratch.
I start by roasting off about a pound and a half of tomatillos, sliced in half, under the broiler in the oven. I also roast two Anaheim chilies, a Pasilla chilie, one or two Jalapenos, and about 5 cloves of garlic. Once everything is roasted (chilies need to be charred on the outside, cooled, and peeled/seeded), I put everything in a blender along with a full bunch of fresh cilantro and pulse just until combined and still chunky. This is the verde sauce, or green sauce, which is the braising liquid.
Next, I trim the bone and most of the fat (leave some for flavor!) from a four- pound pork shoulder blade roast. I portion the trimmed roast into 2-3 inch pieces and spread them out on a sheet pan. I season well with salt (go ahead and use the good stuff; sea salt, smoked salt, kosher salt, etc.) and fresh ground black pepper. Remember, season WELL. This is an important layer of flavor to achieve. Once seasoned, I brown the pork in small batches in a large heavy-bottomed pot on med-high heat. Small batches are important to attain the proper result, which is nice carmelization, no burning, and no steamed meat. That carmelization will lend a layer of flavor that one just cannot get without taking this step. I finish this process with a big bowl of beautifully browned pork.
That heavy bottomed pan (regulate that heat to keep from burning those gorgeous brown bits on the bottom) that I browned the pork in needs to be de-glazed. Deglazing a pan takes advantage of the fond, or caramelized bits, on the bottom of a pan that is left behind after browning meat (but not exclusively meat). Many liquids can be used to do this; spirits, wine, fruit juices, stock to name a few. In the case of the Chili Verde, two medium diced large onions will do the trick. The juices of the onion that are released from the heat of the pan will easily dissolve all of that goodness; that and a wooden spoon to help loosen things up.
So now we have the tri-fecta: verde sauce, browned pork shoulder, and sautéed onions. I combine the three back in the pan and add 2 to three cups of chicken stock, or enough to cover the pork. I bring it up to a boil and straight back down to barely a simmer. I use no lid as a little reduction serves to concentrate flavors.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t go step by step on how to make the Spanish rice. Simply, it is long grain rice browned in a couple of tablespoons of oil, sautéed with onion and garlic, and combined with hot chicken stock, tomato, and oregano. I finish this dish in the oven . My results have varied. Short grain rice turns out too soft and gummy. Long grain works best for me. Sometimes a little experimentation doesn’t hurt. This batch turned out quitewell.
Normally I don’t include a vegetable but I had a Kombucha squash(Japanese variety similar to Acorn squash) given to me and needed to do something with it. I seeded, skinned, diced it, seasoned it, and roasted it in the oven. Depending on your tastes, there are a few different ways of affecting the flavor of a winter squash. I believe I went with salt, pepper, a little cayenne, a bit of brown sugar, and some cardamom; again, a little experimentation.
No matter what can be said about cooking and the culinary arts, the best part of the process is when I can sit down and enjoy the fruits of my labor—Salud!