Abuelita’s Guisado Verde

20150901_165524An easy-to-make tomatillo and pork stew which can be as spicy as you like by adding more or fewer jalapenos, or as mild as you like by simply leaving out the jalapenos altogether.  I’m a big fan of anything Mexican, especially if it involves terms such as “verde,” “chile,” “jalapeno,”, or “pork.” Many choices for Mexican style stews are “red,” which feature of course the all-powerful tomato and perhaps chile powder and cumin as some of the major elements. But this particular recipe is a wonderful alternative to the standard “red” chili-stew fare. Tomatillos are s-o-o underrated!  The crucial combination and melding influence of the elements of tomatillos, jalapenos, green chiles, and cilantro combine together to produce a sort of “verdant verde brilliance,” which in turn, serves to provide an extraordinary core essence to this magnificently excellent dish. And, as an added bonus, it is actually two meals in one; the first is of course the green stew mixture served in a bowl; the second is the strained pork stock served in a taco shell.  Buon Prevecho X2!

Okay, let’s face it.  I didn’t grow up under a Spanish or Mexican heritage…and my taste for those kinds of ethnic foods actually was developed later in life. Check out my “palatal influences” for more about that.

Nonetheless, all of us have foods, dishes, or particular meals that we remember as what “mama used to make,” or what “grandma used to make” growing up.  And, although I don’t have a Mexican or Spanish heritage (actually I am 8th generation Irish on my Father’s side), I do have many great memories of those foods which were lovingly served to me in my youth.  And as such, I decided to name this particular recipe in honor of that heritage, namely, something like “my grandmother would make,” or actually that anyone’s grandmother would make.  By remembering it in that sense, we honor the “grandmother” quality of the dish, whether or not our grandmother actually made it or not.

“Guisado” means stew in Spanish…and “abuelita” is the coloquial Spanish term for “grandma,” or literally translated, “little grandmother” or “granny.”  (“Abuela” is the more formal term, “Grandmother.”) And of course, we have “verde,” which means green.  Put all those together and you essentially have “Grandma’s Green Stew,” or as I have affectionately chosen to call it, “Abuelita’s Guisado Verde.”  I love referring to recipes in Mexican terms because it honors the deeper character of these dishes, an honor which I believe they richly deserve. And as I’ve said, no, my grandmother never made this, but this one is just so good that it falls into the category of something like “my mother used to make,” or in this case something one remembers from their childhood that they might be served when they visited their grandmother’s house.  Like something you would remember such as chile verde, chile rellenos, or simply your “grandmother’s guisado.”

There is a common link between all kinds of ethnic or soul foods  They are typically slow-cooked, braised, or stewed…and often for hours. Anything which is lovingly and tenderly prepared without regard for the time involved, takes us back to a former time, when our parents or grandparents had more time to prepare a hearty family meal,or a succulent dish, and in stark contrast to today’s working families, fast food, and home pizza deliveries.

I was intrigued by this recipe since I first discovered it, and finally got around to giving it a go. Wow, what an excellent Mexican-style dish!  It certainly gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase, “Go Green!” The recipe is essentially my version of Slow Cooker Guisado Verde, adapted, personally tweaked, modified, adjusted and fine-tuned to satisfy my personal palate. And hopefully…yours as well.

Some of the more significant changes I made to the recipe ingredients was to substitute fresh tomatillos instead of the canned ones called for in the recipe, and to recommend the use of Hatch Green Chiles as well.  The headquarters of green chile country, in my opinion, is Hatch, New Mexico, and I don’t think you can find a better quality green chile pepper as an ingredient for practically any Mexican or Southwestern dish, than Hatch Green Chiles. I also substituted chicken stock instead of water called for in the original recipe, as I like the deeper level of flavor brought out by the use of the stock.

Ingredients20150901_085621

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or canola oil)
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (or pork loin)
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 lbs fresh tomatillos (or, if you cannot find fresh ones, substitute 2 (12 ounce) cans, drained and chopped

NOTE:  If you’ve never worked with fresh tomatillos before, they come wrapped in a papery outer layer – be sure to remove that outer layer – it peels off easily – then  wash them thoroughly before using.  They have a sort of sticky residue that the outer layer leaves behind when you peel it, but it washes off nicely under cool water.

  • 1 (7 ounce) can diced Hatch green chile peppers (If you can’t find Hatch, substitute any brand of your choice)hatch-diced-green-chiles
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 qt (32 oz) chicken stock
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown the pork on all sides. Reserving the juices in the skillet, transfer the pork to a slow cooker.

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Saute the onion and garlic for about 1 minute in the skillet with the pork juices over medium heat. Transfer to the slow cooker, along with the skillet juices.

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Mix the tomatillos, green chile peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro into the slow cooker. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper.

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Pour in the chicken stock, or enough to cover all ingredients. Cover, and cook on High for 6 to 7 hours, or on low for 8 hours.

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Shred the cooked pork with a fork. Spoon the slow cooker mixture into bowls, and top with Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and fresh cilantro sprigs to serve.

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Now this is where the “Buon Provecho X2” comes in – you can also serve the Guisado Verde as a taco filling, with appropriate garni of course, sour cream and pepper jack cheese. Just strain the pork from the succulent stew, and use it to fill some taco shells.

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Suffice it to say….the culinary adventure continues!

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Buon Provecho!

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