Last week, on St. Patrick’s Day, we had green food for dinner. It had booze in it. But it wasn’t Irish.
Nope, for the great green holiday, we went Mexican. For breakfast, we had “Mexican eggs”—scrambled eggs topped with a Mexican four-cheese blend and tomatoes. Oh, there were potatoes on the side, so I suppose we did end up with something Irish after all!
For dinner, I made Pork Chile Verde. Chile verde is one of my favorite Mexican dishes because…no beans! Yes, this is another of my weird food dislikes: beans. Well, certain kinds of beans, anyway. The yucky bean list includes refried beans, so I always gravitate toward the dishes, like this one, that are served without the despised puddle of brown goo.
It wasn’t intentional to have Mexican flavors at both meals; I didn’t even realize I’d gone thematic until I was serving up dinner. But it’s not like we were going to have corned beef and cabbage. (Cabbage being another of my food prejudices—I know, this is a blog about food, and I am so picky, right?!)
It did make me think, though, about how culturally confused I am when it comes to cooking: despite growing up in a house where we ate rice at dinner every night, I bust out the rice cooker maybe once every 10 days now; I make far more Italian than I do Japanese (that being my heritage); and a good portion of what I make can’t be assigned to any particular ethnic group—it’s just food. Our meals roam all over the earth, and while it means I’ll maybe never master the art of perfect tempura, I think we’re happier having no cultural identity in our kitchen.
Here’s the recipe for our culturally confused green meal for St. Patrick’s Day.
Most recipes call for pork shoulder or butt, but because I cook for only two, I often get boneless spare ribs since those come in smaller packages.
- 2 lb. pork, trimmed of excess fat (particularly any squishy bits), cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ large Maui or sweet ‘Ewa onion (or yellow onion), diced
- 6-8 garlic cloves (we like garlic; you don’t have to go as crazy with it as I do), minced
- 1 poblano chile (I am a spice wuss; you can add more, or different—like jalapeño—peppers, depending on your taste), minced
- 2 cans whole tomatillos (We don’t have fresh ones here; on the occasions I do see them in the grocery store, they are prohibitively expensive. If you have them, you can roast and purée them.)
- Approx. 2 cups chicken stock or broth (1 can should do; I use low-sodium)
- 1 large bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- Garlic salt
- Salt & pepper
- Olive oil
- Tequila blanco (doesn’t have to be expensive, but no rot gut, OK?)
Heat oil in a large, heavy pot or deep pan. (I like to use my beloved Le Creuset and simmer in the oven, but this dish can be made entirely on the stovetop; if you’re using a Dutch oven, you should preheat the oven to 350° now.) Season pork cubes with salts and pepper to taste, and sear until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside while you sauté the onions, garlic and peppers. Once the onions are soft and the garlic is browned, deglaze the pot with a little bit of tequila. Add the pork back to the pot. Splash in a bit more tequila. Dump in the tomatillos (don’t bother chopping them, just toss them in whole with whatever juices were in the can). Add chicken stock to cover.
Cover pot with lid and let simmer (in the oven or on the stovetop) for at least two hours, or until pork is tender. If you prefer a less-liquidy chile verde, remove the lid and simmer on the stove top until liquid is reduced to desired amount. Add chopped cilantro and stir in right before serving. Serve with warm tortillas.