Pork Stew + Green Chiles + Orange + Cilantro

 Pork Stew + Green Chiles + Orange + Cilantro

Pork Stew + Green Chiles + Orange + Cilantro

The title of this heavy dish is a mouthful, as you will be when you marvel yourself in this dish. From Fine Cooking's Annual cookbook (by way of Martha Holmberg), this tasty dish hits many palettes, from citrusy orange to the green chiles, and even to the cilantro. Every ingredient jumps out well as they tend to blend into a great pork stew. The flavor profile leans toward a South American dish, but I'm not quite sure where it lands in the terms of culture, but it's great enough to make again. 

I served this over some white jasmine rice, and the recipe also recommended polenta, potatoes, or even cornbread. I made some Sweet Corn Spoonbread with it, but just the white rice would have been enough. The spoonbread gave some sweetness to the dish, but not necessary. There's a lot of waiting time for this dish, however, so you can definitely whip up potatoes or the spoonbread in the mean time. Serves six or seven.

GATHER:

  • 3 lb boneless pork shoulder, preferably boneless pork butt, trimmed of any big pieces of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 to 3 medium navel or juice oranges (I had to use 4 to measure out 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder or other hot chile powder; more to taste
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 8 cilantro stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh or canned tomatillos
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 1 (4oz) can whole green chiles, roughly chopped (I just bought the already chopped ones)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves; more for serving

MAKE:

 Right before the first simmer

Right before the first simmer

  1. Toss the chunks of pork with the salt. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy stew pot; when it's very hot, add about half the pork or however much will fit in one layer. Lower the heat to medium and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Take care not to burn the layer of cooked-on juices that will form in the bottom of the pan. Transfer the pork to a bowl, add more oil if needed, and brown the remaining pork in the same way. Transfer to the bowl.
  2. While pork is browning, cut a 4x1-inch strip of zest from one of the oranges. Juice all the oranges, to get about 1 cup. (I cut 4 one-inch strips instead of 1 big 4x1 strip. I simply read it wrong, but it sure worked!)
  3. Pour off any oil in the pot, then add the water and dissolve the cooked-on juices. Pour put the liquid and reserve it to use in the stew (unless the juices seemed burned; if so, just discard it).
  4. Wipe out the pan, heat it to medium high, and add 2 tbsp oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and light golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and chile powder and stir for a few seconds. Add the flour, stir constantly for about 1 minute to cook off the raw floury taste, then add the orange juice, broth, and reserved dissolved pan juices. Stir to blend, bring to a boil, add the pork chunks, and immediately turn down the heat to a low simmer. Add the orange zest, cilantro stems, and bay leaf. Cover the pot and gently simmer for about 1 hour. 
  5. Add the tomatillos, tomatoes, and green chiles and continue to simmer until the pork is completely tender (tasting a piece is the best test), another 30 to 60 minutes. 
  6. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon to a bowl; discard the bay leaf and zest. Spoon off any visible fat from the sauce. Increase the heat so the sauce boils gently and reduces in volume by about a third, 8 to 10 minutes. It should be very flavorful and have a nice coating consistency. Return everything to the pot, add the chopped cilantro, taste for seasoning, and served sprinkled with more cilantro, if you like.