Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sisterhood--Pork Chile Verde

This is a weekend to savor. A gathering of yakety yaks. A celebration of milestones. An excuse to wine and dine. And be thankful for the camaraderie that exists among us women. This is Suju's year to celebrate. Her half century and we all get to partake!! Plans have been afoot for a while. That's what Geets does best...the preparatory elements. Where will we go? What will we do? And most importantly what will we eat??? Amelia Island gets a resounding yea. Sunset cruises, walks on the beach, farmers markets and quaint storefronts qualify undoubtedly as activities. And then we come to the meals. Breakfasts are to be nonchalant meals. Lunches could range from bhelpuri to salads. Dinners will be a long drawn out affair, the table resplendent with wine, women and wonderful food.

This group has met a few years ago in Nashville, once again celebrating a milestone. Padma, the enthusiastic celebrant, wanted a bang-up place and what could be better than honky tonk Nashville. We ate, drank and karaoked our way through many a bar. This trip has a different feel. A laid back vibe. This is beach time. A drink by the poolside. A bite by the waves. These ladies make sweet music wherever they go! 

The birthday girl is greeted with balloons and noise apt welcome for the loudest soul. Geets has planned minute details right down to the quintessential group pic in white and blue. The next few days promises to be a revolving door of arrivals and departures. Padma and Priya from Florida. Cadi, Sonia, Carolyn from Chicago. Nikita from Atlanta. Geeta from Evansville and last but not least Prabha all the way from India. It is an escalating scale of convivial laughter, anecdotes and exaggerations!!! G & T's are poured, along with lime-spiked Coronas. As always, the table, burgeoning with food, is where the hubbub begins and ends. Salads and samosas, chicken and chops, baklava and burfi. With this description, I have barely scratched the surface. The fridge teems with all things not so good for that hourglass figure, in other words, foods we relish!!

We sit down to a final meal, small plates style. A progressive dinner meant to be stretched over our last evening. It begins with a crostini bar. Geets has made an assortment of toppings...kale and beans, confit of tomatoes, roasted eggplant and mushrooms. All these with a glass of chilled Prosecco starts the festivities. This island has the most delicious shrimp. A straw-hatted, sunburnt man sells shrimp the size of your palm. Never frozen, briny and still wriggling. We buy some and lay out a plate of grilled garlic shrimp with a slice of frittata. Pears stuffed with Gorgonzola and cranberries sit on a lightly dressed salad. Our intermezzo is an invigorating game of charades. Equally divided, we yell out our answers, mayhem ensuing. With a small respite we return for the main course, pork chile verde served on a bed of cilantro rice. 

This recipe has been my favorite since I had it a year ago in San Francisco. A borrowed recipe, it now has another life in my kitchen. The ease of preparation is ridiculous. You dump pork, cumin and coriander, salsa verde and onions into a slow cooker and don't look at it for few hours. Honestly, you will want to lift the lid and peek at the aromatic slowly bubbling sauce. The aroma is divine, the promise of tangy, spicy tacos that will be, then again I demur and decide on rice. The kitchen is perfumed with the aroma of southwestern flavors. Pork comes apart easily as I shred it with forks. Once it cools, I freeze some in a ziploc bag. My contribution to the dinner is a premade thought!

Serves 6 hearty portions

3 pound Pork Butt with Bone.
1 12oz jar Salsa Verde
2 tablespoons Cumin seeds
2tablespoons Coriander seeds
1 medium Onion
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
3 cups cooked Rice
1/2 cup Cilantro

Rinse and wipe the pork butt and place in a slow cooker.

Bruise cumin and coriander seeds in the palm of your hand by rubbing them. Sprinkle over pork. 

Pour salsa verde over pork.

Peel and cut onions into small dice. Add to slow cooker.

Season the pork with salt and pepper, cover with lid and start the cooker on high. 

Let the pork cook undisturbed for 4 to 5 hours.

Remove pork from cooker and shred with two forks.

Return the shredded pork back into the sauce.

Mix rice with cilantro. 

Serve pork over a bed of warmed cilantro rice. 


I use pork butt or shoulder with a bone. Bones impart a lot of flavor to the dish.

Trader Joes salsa verde is convienient to use. Homemade salsa verde is very good too.

The pork makes a tasty filling for tacos as well as enchiladas.

Everyone is groaning as we finish the course by course dinner.  I can't let a happy occasion go by without dessert.A chocolate tart which Suju's sweet tooth has a penchant for. Slivers disappear as I plate them. My chef-in-arms Geets and me have done us proud!!! This indulgent weekend has been one filled with glamorously dressed women, always smiling for a photo op, giving random hugs, compliments and most importantly unadulterated love. An exemplary display of closeness and affection that symbolizes stirs my soul. Thanks for the invite, girls!