At Pacific Grill we feature a homey stew on the menu through the winter, which changes by the week.
Right now we have a wonderfully flavored Pork Chile Verde. We take a whole pork shoulder and break it down in to chunky stew sized pieces. Generously season the pork with salt and pepper and let it sit for an hour to develop more flavor. Drain the meat of any accumulated juices before sautéing or the meat won’t brown as nicely.
Then we sauté the meat at high heat to give it good color.
Complex browning reactions give rise to a much more flavorful stew—or as I like to tell my staff color equals flavor; then we stew the meat with some sliced onions and garlic until the onions are wilted, then add enough blond chicken stock to just cover the meat. We bring the pot to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer until the meat could be crushed with the back of a fork. This takes about an hour or more but you cannot just set a timer and think that a braise is ready. You have to taste a piece of the meat. It is not ready until the tough fatty connective tissue has been rendered into supple deliousness and the meat incredibly tender.
The stock is reduced separately and folded into the tomatillo sauce which is prepared separately to preserve its green color.
We boil some chunked-up peeled russet potatoes with some chopped fresh garlic until just tender, then make a tomatillo sauce with sliced onions and garlic. After halving and sautéing the tomatillos, we also add some coarsely chopped roasted and peeled poblano chilies. When the tomatillos are cooked through we puree them off the heat with a bermixer [immersion blender] adding fresh cilantro and lots of raw baby spinach to heighten the bright green color of this fresh-tasting sauce.
We add some baby white carrots as a garnish to contrast the color of the vivid green sauce, a shake or two of green Tabasco— more or less depending on your taste. Taste the sauce against the bland potato to determine if it needs additional salt or pepper. If unsure, try seasoning a tablespoon of the stew and tasting it, before committing the entire stew to additional salt. It is better to ruin a tablespoon of the stew by over-seasoning than then entire night’s dinner.
Add a sprig of cilantro or two, and serve some buttered grilled corn tortillas on the side.
Reprinted by permission from www.southsoundeats.com