Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tomatillo-braised Pork Loin

As the autumn harvest begins in earnest, the garden is starting to produce oodles and oodles of tomatillos. Tomatillos are pretty amazing--the combination of acidity and sweetness cannot be beat by any other vegetable. I also love their incredible fecundity--we had almost a dozen tomatillo volunteers in the garden this year thanks to one plant last year. I'm a bit nervous about next summer!

Like my mother-in-law Kate, I too am a big fan of Rick Bayless. Today, Audi and I made Rick Bayless' Tomatillo-braised Pork Loin. In concept, this dish is incredibly simple -- roast tomatillos & chiles, puree and cook down with onions. Then slow cook potatoes & a pork loin in the mixture. The result is amazing. Audi and I have been making this dish for years -- today we played with it a bit. We added roasted garlic & poblano chiles to the mix. We also chose a tougher pork roast, but cooked it in the slow cooker, which resulted in beautifully tender and rich tasting meat. We ended up making tacos out of the shredded pork, queso fresco, and a corn and tomato salsa (also made from garden delights!)



Rick Bayless' Tomatillo-raised Pork Loin

* 1 1/2 tablespoons rich-tasting pork lard or olive or vegetable oil
* 1 2-pound boneless pork loin roast, untied if in two pieces
* 1 pound (10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
* Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 3 serranos or 1 jalapeòo), stemmed
* 1 medium white onion, sliced
* 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
* 1 or 2 large sprigs fresh epazote, plus extra for garnish
* OR 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
* Salt
* 10 small (about 1 1/4 pounds total) red-skin boiling potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

Browning the pork. In a medium-size (4- or 5-quart) Dutch oven or other heavy pan with tight-fitting lid, heat the lard or oil over medium. When quite hot, lay in the pork loin (if there is more than one piece, don’t crowd them or they’ll stew rather than brown). Brown well on one side, about 5 minutes, turn it over and brown the other side. Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the pork to a plate; set aside the Dutch oven or pan to use for the sauce making.

The sauce. Roast the tomatillos and chiles on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side — 4 or 5 minutes more will give you splotchy-black and blistered tomatillos and chiles that are soft and cooked through. Cool and transfer everything to a food processor or blender, being careful to scrape up all the delicious juice that has run out onto the baking sheet. Process until smoothly pureed.

Set the pork-browning pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.
Raise the heat to medium-high, and, when really sizzling, add the tomatillo puree all at once. Stir until noticeably darker and very thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and the epazote or cilantro. Taste and season with salt, usually 1 teaspoon. Stir everything thoroughly.
Braising the pork. Heat the oven to 325. Nestle the browned pork into the warm sauce, cover the pot, and set in the oven. Cook 30 minutes.

While the meat is cooking, simmer the potatoes in heavily salted water to cover until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

When the pork has cooked 30 minutes, nestle the cooked potatoes into the sauce around the meat, re-cover and cook about 10 minutes longer, until the pork registers about 145 on a meat or instant-read thermometer. The meat will feel rather firm (not hard) to the touch, and cutting into the center will reveal only the slightest hint of pink.

Serving the dish. With a pair of tongs and a spatula, transfer the pork to a cutting board. Let it rest there for 3 or 4 minutes while you finish the sauce: Spoon off any fat on the top of the sauce, taste the sauce and season it with additional salt if you think necessary. Spoon the sauce and potatoes onto a warm, deep serving platter.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

11 comments:

  1. Why didn't I think of growing tomatillos? I love them! This looks fabulous, my dear. I'm beginning to crave making Mexican food, thanks to you!
    Deb

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  2. This recipe is amazing! I have to admit that I have never cooked with fresh tomatillos. How say is this?!

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  3. Just roast and pureee...the tomatillos must taste wonderful

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  4. I'm on my way to the grocery to get the ingredients. This sounds so good.

    I'm going to Chicago next month and have reservations at Frontera Grill. Can't wait to go to Rick Bayless' restaurant.

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  5. Cathy, When you return let us know your experience!

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  6. @ungourmet: The recipe is so versatile! I can imagine the sauce would be a great one for enchiladas verde. It would probably freeze well too.

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  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog to say hi.
    Your blog looks great- I just love finding cooking blogs and it looks like you have a ton of amazing recipes that I am going to have to try!

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  8. Oh my gosh, this dish sounds amazing! I'm copying and saving the recipe - thank you :)

    ~Susan

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  9. woooooooohoo !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Oh my gosh I cannot wait to try this !!!!!!!

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  10. You are so good with your recipes..I don't use recipes, so I just have to say do this do that! LOL..
    It looks wonderful, thank you!

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  11. Kate's daughter Audi here! Well, my mom (Kate) and my dad (Kitchen Gnome) tried the recipe and loved it! Kitchen Gnome really liked the potatoes just like I did. I've since stewed some pinto beans in the leftover pork and tomatillo sauce and I have the most amazing chili to eat this week! Truly, a dish that keeps on giving!

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