Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pork Stew with Poblano and Black Beans

Every week for the past  thirty odd years I wait with a frisson of excitement for the Food section of the New York Times. This section fires my culinary landscape, thrills the gourmet in me, transports me to restaurant kitchens I will never visit and provides me with a burgeoning stack of clipped recipes. For those of us from the cave man days....yes....we clip and paste!!!

My heart flutters a little on Wednesdays. I happily discover another keeper in this week's paper. A parade of culinary geniuses have contributed their expertise in the section called A Good Appetite. The most recent, Melissa Clark has been inventing and reinventing recipes for a few years. They are contemporary and innovative. Her techniques are uncomplicated. Her commentary is insightful and informative. Her palate is sophisticated, yet surprisingly simple. So I wade enthusiastically into her recipe for green chorizo. 

The recipe calls for ground pork, to me a better option than ground beef or lamb. It's gets its green color from a paste of poblano chiles and garlic. The trouble with me is I like to change it up a bit. Go in another direction. I add more garlic and poblanos. I leave out the serrano chile. I cut down the amount of black beans and tomatoes. And it still smells amazing, bubbling away on the stove. 

Serves 4 

1 pound ground Pork
1 teaspoon whole Black Peppercorns
1 tablespoon Coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
1 small dried Bay Leaf
4 Cloves
2 Poblano Chiles
10 cloves Garlic, unpeeled
1/2 cup Parsley
1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
1 medium Onion
1/2 cup Cilantro Stems
1 cup cooked Black Beans
1 large Tomato
1/2-3/4 cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Cilantro to garnish

Place pork in a bowl.

Heat a cast iron pan over a high flame for a few minutes.

Add peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds, oregano, bay leaf and cloves and toast till spices are aromatic and slightly singed.

Transfer to a spice grinder and whizz to a fine powder.

Return cast iron pan to a high flame.

Throw in garlic cloves with their skin on. 

Add poblano chiles to pan. They will sizzle and pop.

Turn chiles and garlic from time to time till they are soft, about 8-10 minutes.

Set aside to cool.

Peel garlic and drop into the bowl of a food processor.

Slice poblanos in half and remove seeds. Chop the chiles into 1inch pieces and add to processor bowl.

Add sherry vinegar, parsley and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and purée. The paste should have some texture and not be completely smooth.

Add paste to pork along with ground spices. Mix well and let pork sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. Let it come to room temperature before using.

Heat canola oil in a deep saucepan over a high flame.

Cut onion into rough chunks and add to oil. Sauté for a few minutes till translucent.

Add chorizo and roughly chopped cilantro stems. Stir occasionally for a few minutes till all the water has dried up.

Cut tomato in chunks and add to pork.

Add black beans, water and salt and let meat come to boil. 

Lower flame to medium and let the meat cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with tortillas or rice.

The aroma of braising pork anoints the kitchen. My olfactory senses are assaulted by sharp chiles, cilantro and of course browned meat. The combination has the same power as the Pied Piper's tune. My men are quickly drawn to the table. I heat tortillas along with a rice pilaf. It is a simple but tongue-tingling dinner. Thank you Melissa Clark for once again taking me down a road I would've never thought to travel.