You know how some of your best recipes “just happen”? This is one of those!
For decades I have loved chili verde, pork cubes cooked in a tomatillo sauce thickened with ground pumpkin seeds. We make it at home ourselves, order it in a few select eateries, and adapt the flavors to build other dishes.
I wasn’t looking to build something new when this happened. I simply wanted to see what would result in browning the pork before cooking it in a liquid. Traditionally, the pork is not browned but rather simmered in the green sauce.
I browned the pork and then cooked it in bone broth for added nutrition. When the pork was done, I started to add my home-canned tomatillo sauce. At that point things really went a different direction. Up until this year I froze tomatillo sauce. With canning I had to add vinegar to the recipe, however I had forgotten this fact.
I opened the jar and took a taste, checking for salt. Vinegar! Hmmm. If I used the whole jar as planned, the kids would have found it too sour. I used a half jar plus some heavy cream to balance the acidity and we had a whole new dish!
The sauce is brown rather than green. You taste it and would never recognize the tomatillo sauce. Everything blends into a dense and richly flavored sauce to enjoy over rice.
Frederick (11 years old), the food critic in residence, took a bite before walking to the table with his plate. I could hear him talking under his breath about how yummy it was. My heart was smiling!
Piquant Pork Ingredients
3-4 pound pork shoulder roast
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 quart chicken bone broth (approximately)
1 cup tomatillo sauce or verde sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon thickener like regular flour (or a gluten-free tapioca flour)
Piquant Pork Steps
Trim the fat and evident gristle from the pork roast. Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes. (I know, half of them will not be cubes. It’s just a manner of speaking!)
Heat the coconut oil in your very largest skillet, one that will accommodate your pork cubes in one layer.
When the oil is sizzly hot, add the meat. Salt and pepper the meat it to suit your own tastes. Then add just a bit more pepper.
Allow the pork to sizzle undisturbed until the bottoms of the cubes are brown. Using a spatula, break the cubes loose and toss them a bit.
Continue with the sizzle and tossing until the cubes look well browned. As you scrape the meat loose from the bottom of the skillet, scrape up any of the pan dripping. The drippings will cling to the meat and flavor it beautifully.
When the cubes are nicely browned, add enough of the chicken broth to half cover the cubes. Turn the heat to low and cover the skillet loosely with a lid.
Check about every 30 minutes. Toss and add more broth when needed. Some will be needed. Cook until the pork cubes are tender. It could take as much as an hour and a half. This is a good dish to cook when you are working in the kitchen doing other things.
As the pork reaches the finish line, add the verde sauce, stir and check for salt. Make any necessary salt adjustment.
If the meat needs more broth, this is a good time to add it.
In a small bowl mix the cream with the thickener. Stir well to break up lumps.
With the meat at a simmer, slowly add the cream mixture, stirring continually. Stir for a couple of minutes while the sauce thickens up. If it is too thick, add more broth or cream.
Serve the pork over rice. We like it over brown rice pilaf. In the last 20 or so minutes of the pilaf steaming, I pile on a large handful of cilantro to get that flavor into the rice. It just sings with this piquant pork.