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Pork braised in tomatillo salsa

Plated final dish, over a toasted tortilla

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil (such as grapeseed)
  • 1 2-pound boneless pork loin roast, trimmed of any silverskin
  • 1 pound (10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • Fresh hot green chilies to taste (generally 3 serranos or 1 jalapeño), stemmed
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 small (about 1 1/4 pounds total) red-skin boiling potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

Procedures

Browning the pork. In a medium-size (4- or 5-quart) Dutch oven or other heavy pan with tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium. When quite hot, lay in the pork loin (if there is more than one piece, brown in separate batches). 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 creating the sauce.

The sauce: Roast the tomatillos and chilies on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, evenly 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 chilies that are soft and cooked through. Cool and transfer everything to a food processor or blender, being careful to scrape up all juices (which contribute flavor) that have run out onto the baking sheet. Process until smoothly pureed.

Set the pork-browning pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 6 – 7 minutes, also scraping up all the delicious flavor at the bottom of the pot. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer, being careful to not burn the garlic. 
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 stock and the cilantro. Taste and season with salt (usually 1 teaspoon). Stir everything thoroughly.

The braise: 
Braising the pork. Heat the oven to 325. Place the browned pork into the warm sauce. Just the top surface of the pork should be seen, with the rest submerged in the sauce. Cover the pot, and set in the oven. Cook 30 minutes.

While the pork is cooking, simmer the potatoes covered in heavily salted water tender, about 10 minutes. a poke with the tip of a sharp paring knife can be your test for doneness. 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 outside of the pork will feel firm to the touch, however the center will reveal just a hint of peek.

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

Using a sharp knife, slice the pork into 1/4-inch slices and arrange them over the sauce. Garnish the platter with more chopped cilantro (my favorite) or cilantro sprigs.

Option: You may toast tortillas on a skillet until they are just slightly marked/blistered, and serve at the table on a warmed plate covered with a towel. It is fun to use the tortillas as a “scoop” for the sauce or to place the tortilla flat on the plate and ladle the pork braise, sauce and potatoes atop.

Serves 6

 

Pork after searing on both sides, caramelized on the outside and now ready for braising

Creating the sauce with tomatillos, onions, and garlic

The pork and potatoes are nestled in the sauce to braise

Tortillas toasting away on a cast iron skillet

Just out of the oven and ready to plate – – garnished with chopped cilantro

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