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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published November 10 2010

Halgrimson: Recipe tweaks create authentic Mexican stew

One of my favorite cold weather stews is Pork with Green Chilies, also known as Chile Verde.

The first time I saw this recipe was in the Sunset Mexican Cook Book, which was published in 1975. The book cost $2.45 back then. It is tattered and stained and filled with wonderful information and recipes.

But my own recipe for Chile Verde has evolved over the years. The Sunset recipe calls for tomatoes and green bell peppers. I do not like green bell peppers and now that Anaheim chilies are available, I use them instead.

And it has been my understanding that green Mexican sauces use tomatillos rather than tomatoes, so that’s what goes into my stew.

I also learned from my reading about Mexican cooking that ground nuts are sometimes used to thicken sauces. Nuts do not bind in the same way that flour, cornstarch or arrowroot do, but nuts do thicken the sauce so I added them to my recipe.

Toasting improves the flavor of any nut. Just spread them on a metal baking pan in a single layer and toast in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until you can smell them. Watch carefully as the nuts will quickly burn. Turn them out on paper towels to cool before grinding.

Sometimes I peel the chilies. Using tongs, I hold them over the flames of my gas range and blister the skin, let them cool and then peel. The chilies may also be split lengthwise and seeded, then laid cut side down on a metal pan. Broil four to five inches from heat until they blister, cool and peel.

If I’m really short on time, I use three cans (3 ounces each) chopped green chilies. I keep the cans on hand in my cupboard.

When there are no fresh tomatillos at the market – which is rare – I use a 15-ounce can that I buy when I find them so I have them available.

The stew can also be served with warm flour tortillas rather than rice. Serve with a green salad with avocado dressed in vinaigrette made with lime juice.

Pork With Green Chilies (Chile Verde)

2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 pounds pork loin cut in 1-inch cubes

2 onions, chopped

3 Anaheim chiles, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds, ground

1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves

1 pound tomatillos, husk removed and quartered

1/2 cup toasted almonds, ground

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped cilantro to garnish

Lime wedges to garnish

2 cups cooked rice

Sauté pork in oil and add, onions, chiles, garlic and cumin. Cook over low heat until onion is softened. Add chicken broth, oregano and tomatillos. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about 40 minutes. Stir in ground almonds and season with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges. Serves 4.

Vinaigrette Sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

A dollop of Dijon mustard

1/3 cup good olive oil

Greens

1 avocado peeled and diced

Add salt to lime juice and let it dissolve. Stir in pepper and mustard. Beat in olive oil with a fork, pour over greens and avocado and toss to coat lettuce.


Readers can reach Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com