Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Two Southwestern Pork Recipes to Comfort You in the Cold Winter Weather

Here in the Seattle area there is a distinct lack of good Mexican restaurants. So anytime we go to California or Arizona, we try to make up for lost time by having as many southwestern/Mexican meals as possible. The alternative is to learn to cook this food yourself. These dishes are ones that our family comes back to again and again. While they are cooking they fill the house with mouthwatering smells.

Chile Verde

5 lbs. boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

12 cloves crushed or approximate amount pre-prepared minced garlic in jar
2 cups of chicken broth
4 cans Rotell Mexican style tomatoes
4 cans (7 oz.) diced green chiles
2 medium sized onions
4 teas. oregano
4 teas. chili powder
4 teas. cumin
Can serve with: tortillas, lime wedges, sour cream, chopped cilantro

Cook pork with 1 cup broth, coarsely chopped onion and garlic in large pot on stove for fifty minutes, stirring the pork often to brown and allow time for liquid to reduce. Add 1 cup broth, Rotell tomatoes with juice, diced chilies and remainder of ingredients. Cover and simmer gently until meat is tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. This is a dish that can be made a little bit ahead of time with heat turned very low once it’s done. This recipe can be cut in half if serving just two or three, unless you enjoy leftovers. Serve in large bowls and, if you like, top with a dollop of sour cream, chopped cilantro and/or a wedge of lime. Warm tortillas are nice alongside, too.


Place two boneless pork shoulder roasts in a large Pyrex dish sprayed with PAM. Season the meat heavily with oregano, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and to taste with salt and pepper Fill the bottom of the dish with an inch of chicken broth cover top of meat with mashed garlic cloves from one head of garlic (can use approximate amount of pre-prepared minced garlic in a jar to cut preparation time), a large yellow onion, coarsely chopped and, lastly, pour a jar of salsa verde over all. Cover with foil and place in a 300 degree oven until meat is at the falling apart stage - 7 to 8 hours. Check meat every so often and add more chicken broth if needed.

When pork is done, turn up oven to 400 degrees, take the meat out of the oven, remove the onion and salsa topping and shred meat using two forks or knife and forks. Add more chicken broth if needed or, if there is too much liquid, pour some off - it should be moist and crispy when done. Do not cover pork at this point. Put back in the oven after shredding. Let meat get brown and turn it over. Continue to do this until meat is browned on each side and add broth if needed - you don’t want it soupy, just moist. Once meat is done, take out of oven. 

You can serve this in tortillas with cilantro, avocados, shredded cheese, fresh salsa, sliced black olives or sour cream or alongside Mexican rice, black or refried beans with salad. It’s a very versatile main entree. Great for buffets. For this purpose, serve carnitas with choice of toppings or side dishes. Don’t forget the warmed tortillas -- cover them completely in large flat basket or other container to stay warm.

This is an example of how I sometimes cook. No real recipe - just saw something like this in a newspaper and made up my own version (you can tell I love garlic). My family loves this recipe. It’s also something you can quickly put together in the morning without much fuss and then just pretty much forget about until late afternoon. If you wanted to cook it faster, you could just cut the pork into smaller portions.

I hope you enjoy these two recipes as much as we do. It’s wonderful to eat such comfort food in the warmth of your house at this time of year. 

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