Bayless’ Tomatillo Pork Braise

Before I talk about this recipe, I wanted to highlight the Menu for Change fundraiser going on for the World Food Program. You can find out information at Steamy Kitchen or Chez Pim. It’s an inspiring effort. Another good cause I would point you too is Kiva, the micro-lending site. If you are into the food blogging community, you might join the 101 Cookbooks team over there.

The first time I heard of Rick Bayless was his appearance on Top Chef – Chicago. I was flipping through a Food & Wine book and ran across his Tomatillo Pork Braise recipe, which was originally in his Mexico One Plate at a Time cookbook. Always being one to try a braise, I kept reasonably true to his recipe, split the work for this over two work nights, and loved how it came out. It is deliciously tart and has a real kick.

pork tomatillo braise

Tomatillo Pork Braise, adapted from Rick Bayless

2 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 to 1 1/2 lb tomatillos, husked and cut into half-inch slices
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/3 cup pickled jalapeno slices, most seeds removed
1 dried ancho chile, stem and seeds removed, and halved
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup dried Cargamanto Cranberry beans

Preheat oven to 300F.

Place the cut pork into a bowl and add the worcestershire sauce, stirring it around to coat the pork evenly. In a dutch oven, layer the tomatillos, then scatter the garlic, half of the cilantro, jalapenos and ancho chile (ie dried poblano pepper) on top. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp salt. Then scatter the pork evenly over the top. Place in the oven for 3 hours. (Note: my picture shows a few cilantro stalks thrown on top for good measure)

During this time, you can cook the beans if you are doing this dish all on the same day (see note below). Bring the beans to a boil for 2 minutes, then drain. Refill pot with water an inch or so over the top of the beans and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

pork tomatillo braise

When braise is done, remove the pork to a bowl with tongs.

Remove any excess oil from the braise vegetable mixture, and then puree in a food processor or blender. Place back in the dutch oven and cook over low heat. Add enough water to bring the sauce to the consistency of a creamy soup (I probably added 1/4 cup or possibly more of water to mine).

Stir in the beans, the rest of the cilantro and the pork and cook on low heat until everything is warm, then serve.

pork tomatillo

1. Bayless recommends adding a little sugar if the sauce is too tart for your taste. I found it perfect without the sugar, but then I’m a big salsa verde fan.

2. If you don’t want to use beans, Bayless recommends placing potatoes, turnips or even carrots in below the meat at the start of the braising stage, and removing before the puree step. If you like beans, I think many variations will work here. Bayless recommends Great Northern. I used a Cranberry bean variant and think Pinto beans would probably work nicely too.

3. Bayless also suggests tossing in some fresh spinach and creme fraiche when pureeing the sauce, which does sound pretty good (I didn’t have any on hand)

4. because I was cooking this on work nights, and didn’t want to eat at midnight, I split it into two nights. The prep is pretty quick, so the first night I just had to get the braise into the oven and leave it for 3-hours. I placed the meat and sauce mixture in the fridge overnight, in separate containers. The second night, I cooked the beans, pureed and finished the sauce, added the meat and heated everything up together on the lowest heat setting (pot covered).

16 thoughts on “Bayless’ Tomatillo Pork Braise”

  1. i have to agree that anything braised just tastes so good! it just gets that full flavor. you should try Filipino adobo if you have not

  2. Another beautiful addition to the Constables’ Comfort dishes.
    Love it!
    I will be not be commenting on the ingredients with the letter B.

    Hope you have some of this leftover for the upcoming snowy weekend!

  3. This may well be my first attempt at using tomatillos! I like that you use pork shoulder, a comparatively cheap cut 🙂 Pooh has learnt his lesson, good bear.

  4. paoix: definitely have Filipino adobo on my todo list

    Stacey: bEaNs BeAnS BEanS beANs bEAnS !!!

    kat: I’ll have to check them out at the bookstore

    colloquial: I love pork shoulder – I think it is my favorite cut to braise of any meat

  5. I love your fascination with braises! As soon as I start seeing some tomatillos around here I am going to try this dish!!!

  6. YUM, pork shoulder is my second favorite pork cut (after belly) – and with tomatillo’s this must be a knock out! Great stuff

  7. Really, first time hearing about Rick? Glad you found him and shared this great looking dish.

    Pork shoulder is one of my favourite meats and as for adding sugar…some grated carrot usually does the trick for me.

  8. That looks delicious. I’d like to invite you to take some time to drop by at Foodista. We have launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia. Add a recipe and you can win a $100 gift card to Sur la table. See you there!

  9. Andrea: technically it doesn’t, but if you start late and don’t want to eat even later (i.e. a good 2-3 hours later) I find it easiest to split the effort into 2 nights.

  10. Great tips, you’re photos always look so fantastic. I really need to get a second light in my setup. I usually just use a single $10 lamp I picked up at ikea with a rice paper shade that serves as a diffuser.

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