Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Again and again and again...

I usually go for variety when it comes to food. I mean, sure, I have favourites, comfort food, and a dishes that I turn to when otherwise uninspired. Every cook needs some sort of standard repertoire. But I feel somehow dissatisfied if a week's gone by and I haven't tried something new. I am definitely a creature of habit and of routine... but that routine must include something new.

The dish that I want to tell you about today defies everything I just said about variation. I could eat it for days on end, and usually do. It's something my mom made when Matt and I were back in Albuquerque over Christmas break. I ate it almost obsessively while we were there, and started recreating it the moment we got home. I've been meaning to photograph it and write down some sort of recipe or guideline ever since, but I "forgot" every time... which meant, of course, that I had the perfect excuse to make it all over.

Perhaps a week ago, I finally got my act together, took notes in the kitchen, and found my camera before we sat down to eat. These are the results:

Braised Pork with Fruit and Jalapeno-Lime Salsa
adapted from my parents

The amounts for this are very approximate (I don't think I've made it the same way twice). Play around with the quantities and see how you like it best.

2 - 2 1/2 lbs pork, cut into 3-inch-ish chunks
4 large-ish cloves garlic, chopped (somewhere around the 3 tablespoon mark?)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
1/2 large apple, cored, peeled and chopped
1 orange, with peel, sliced into rounds (discard the end slices)
14 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 chipotle chile from a can, finely chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken broth
canola oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Over medium-high heat, in a large dutch oven, heat a layer of oil. Add as much of the pork as will fit easily in a single layer on the bottom of the pan and brown on all sides. Repeat with remaining pork. Set aside, then add onion to the pan and saute until translucent and soft. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, but not brown. Add about 1/4 cup of the chicken broth to deglaze pan, then remove from heat. Reintroduce pork and any juices that have collected. Add apple, orange, tomatoes, chipotle, and as much chicken broth as needed to come about halfway up the pork mixture. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, but be gentle at this point - you can always add more later.

Cover, and bake in oven for at least three hours - four is better - or until the apple, tomato and orange pulp have melted together, and the pork is very tender. Stir every 30 minutes or so. After the first two hours, you may want to remove the oranges to separate the pulp and the zest, discarding the zest and adding the pulp back to the mixture. Alternatively, let it cook for long enough and the zest will melt into the dish as a whole. After three hours or so, take the pork out and shred it, then put it back into the oven. Taste, and adjust for salt. By the time it's done, it should practically melt in your mouth, and most of the liquid should have been absorbed - it shouldn't be at all soupy. If it is, let it cook for longer.

Serve with Jalapeno-Lime Salsa (recipe follows) and warm corn tortillas.

Jalapeno-Lime Salsa

1/2 red onion, diced
2 jalapenos (or serranos), de-seeded (optional - depends on how spicy you like it - too spicy and the pork will be overwhelmed) and finely chopped
large handful cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes

Combine red onion, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice in a bowl. Taste and adjust for salt.

The salsa will survive for a couple of days in the fridge - it's best fresh. The pork, however, does very well as leftovers - and will last you until you buy the ingredients to start all over again.

1 comment:

littlebijoux said...

MMMM.... that stuff is just way too tasty.

Check out the photos of my lemon tree!

I am excited to Sunday. I'll make sure to bring my own diet coke. Yay!