Posted by: CJW | January 24, 2011

Mango & Pork Chile Verde

A long time ago, well, back when I lived in Cleveland, I spent a lazy Saturday afternoon watching a PBS fund drive. Call it the tragedies of life before we could afford cable. But before you think I’m a total loser, let me mildly try to defend myself by explaining that this PBS station raised its funds with a cookbook series offer as its premium and so the fund drives would frequently showcase demonstrations of recipes from the latest volume in the series. The only one I ever bought was a collection of recipes from local restaurants– a real treasure as now I have some of Michael Symon’s recipes long before Lola was on the national radar.

But on that afternoon, the demonstrations were from home cooks and one demonstration that stuck with me was from a gentleman who made a chile verde spiked with mango. The mango, he explained, not only added sweetness but its acidic enzymes helped to break down the pork, making it even more tender. I was inspired that afternoon to try making that mango and pork chile verde and have returned to it occasionally over the years. This last time I made it, I adapted the process to use my slow cooker.

So yeah, using the slow cooker meant taking a one pot meal and turning it into a multi-pot one, but I hope what makes up for it is not having to worry about leaving a pot cooking over an open flame for a few hours. This way, you can leave for work, go shopping, or I suppose, hang out on the couch and watch a PBS fund drive for hours, while this simmers away without fear. You’ll leave a pot of beautiful, brightly colored ingredients and come back to amazing aromas, a spicy yet fruity broth, and tender morsels of meat eager to be spooned up with some toasted tortillas. And in the end, having a second pot to clean won’t matter since 1) you can either throw the slow cooker pot in the dishwasher or 2) you don’t have to scrub a pot that’s gotten gunked up from sitting on the stove. So it’s totally worth it in the end, right?

Note: Be sure to use a slightly under ripe mango here as it is better for helping to tenderize the pork and will still keep some of its firm texture rather than turning into mush. In other words, choose a mango that is mostly green on the outside with some red or orange color and is firm when squeezed with no soft or mushy spots.

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder or country pork ribs (bones removed), excess fat trimmed off
  • canola oil
  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1.5 tablespoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • big pinch of ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 pasilla peppers
  • 1 large jalapeno
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium, slightly under ripe mango, pit removed and cut into 1/2 inch wide, 2 inch long strips.
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • warm tortillas, cheese, sour cream, etc. for serving

Preheat your broiler and broiler pan. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to a large pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium high heat. Cut pork into 2 inch pieces. Combine masa harina, oregano, 1/2 tablespoon cumin, coriander, and cinnamon on a plate. Sprinkle pork pieces with about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper then toss the pork in the corn flour mixture to coat. Cook in batches, careful not to crowd the pot, browning each side of each piece, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove browned pork to slow cooker pot.

While pork is browning, trim the ends off the peppers and any stems off the tomatillos. Split the pasilla peppers from top to bottom and remove the seeds then flatten the pepper into a wide strip.  Toss these vegetables in about 1 tablespoon of oil and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Placed about 4 inches away from the heating element, broil until skins of peppers and tomatillos are charred. A total of 15-20 minutes, checking every now and then and rotating vegetables as necessary. Remove peppers to a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap. When cool to touch, remove and discard skins. Dice the peppers, then add them and the tomatillos to the pork in the slow cooker pot.

When all pork pieces have been browned, leave about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pot then add the red onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to the slow cooker pot then return pot to heat. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Pour this into the slow cooker along with the remaining 1.5 cups of stock. Add remaining tablespoon of cumin and the mango pieces, then put the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3. When cooking time is over, add chopped cilantro (reserving some for garnish) and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve stew in bowls garnished with more cilantro and topped with other garnishes as you see fit. With warm tortillas on the side, you can either scoop up some of the stew or wrap it up like a burrito.

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