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Mexican Pork Stew with Tomatillos

Serves: Makes 4 servings


  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 quarts water
  • 24 black peppercorns
  • 1 large white onion, halved through the stem end
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and finely ground
  • 1½ teaspoons dried Mexican oregano


You could add hominy, chickpeas, or potatoes to this succulent pork stew, but it’s substantial without them. The pork is fork-tender, bathed in a highly seasoned tomatillo sauce that is even better the second day. Serve with hot corn tortillas and a bowlful of radishes.

Put the pork and water in a large pot over moderate heat, or use a slow cooker. Bring to a simmer, skimming any foam. Add the peppercorns, an onion half, and the salt and simmer gently for 45 minutes, skimming as needed. Strain, reserving the meat and broth separately. Discard the onion half and peppercorns.

Prepare a moderate charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium (375°F). Alternatively, you could use an electric grill or grill pan for indoor cooking. Cut the remaining half onion in half again through the stem end. Put the 2 onion wedges, the tomatillos, the garlic cloves, and the chile on the grill directly over the coals or gas flame. Grill, turning as needed, until softened and charred all over. Watch carefully and remove the tomatillos before they split and lose their juices.

Peel the garlic cloves. Put the garlic, onion, tomatillos, and chile in a blender and blend until smooth.

Heat the canola oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the tomatillo puree, cilantro, cumin, and oregano, crumbling the herb between your fingers as you add it. Simmer, stirring often, for 15 minutes to develop the flavor, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent scorching. If necessary, add a little pork broth to keep the sauce from sticking.

Add the pork and enough of the pork broth to achieve a sauce consistency, 2 to 2½ cups. Cover and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the pork is tender, about 45 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the sauce is too thick, thin with pork broth. If it is too thin, simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing

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