“I want comfort food.”
The Wife makes this pronouncement frequently during the winter, a statement that typically results in my braising something. Short ribs. Pot roast. Chicken. Short ribs.
“I think I want Mexican.”
She took an interesting turn. Mexican comfort food usually results in Chipotle or a trip to The Mission. I wasn’t really interested making a messy enchilada or cooking all day to make a burrito. I thought maybe posole, a rich stew made with hominy, might work but time was going to be an issue and, from what I can tell, a good posole needs a solid six hours to simmer. I would have half that.
I came across this recipe at one of those aggregators that pop up at the top of the Google results when you search for something. Booze works for me, as does pork shoulder. I mean, you can never go wrong with pork shoulder.
WHAT WORKED: Pork shoulder. So did the ancho chiles. I dumped the dried chipotles and doubled up on the anchos. Less heat and more of an earthy, sweet flavor. When I opened the container, I was hit with a smell that reminded me of figs or dates. Toasting them in a saucepan added a nice fragrance to the kitchen, though I doubt Yankee Candle will make an ancho chile candle anytime soon.
WHAT DIDN’T: Tomatoes. I went canned — Muir Glen Fire-Roasted to be exact — because the fresh tomatoes at Wegmans had that lovely orange-red hue. I can’t wait until we start going back to the farmer’s market again.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “Thank you.”
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yeah, but I want to figure out why the liquid disappeared. See, the alcohol cooked off, as did the residual water. Rather than a pan of soupy braised meat, I was left with a slightly burned on panful of shredded pork. Very salvagable, but in need of a forceful scrubbing. I’ve adjusted the recipe accordingly.
Based on the original found at MyRecipes.com
- 4-5 dried ancho chiles
- 20 oz. lager beer (just drink the rest)
- 1/2 cup white (silver) tequila
- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 2-in. cubes
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with juices
- 2 packets Goya Sazon with saffron
- handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wipe the chiles clean with a wet paper towel. Toast the peppers in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until puffy. Turn occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat, let cool until they can be handled without burning your fingers. Use a paring knife to clip the stems, then remove the seeds and inside membranes. Place in a medium-sized bowl and pour beer and tequila over chiles over top. Set aside.
Season the pork liberally with salt. In a large braising pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil until it shimmers. Place the pork in the pan in a single layer. Brown each side 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a bowl.
Saute onion and garlic until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the boozy peppers, tomatoes and Sazon. Add the pork and any accumulated juices. Pour enough water over the top so the meat is just submerged. Bring to a boil, add cilantro leaves, cover, and transfer to the oven.
Cook pork in the oven for 3 hours until it is tender and falling apart. Transfer to a dish and serve with warm tortillas, cotija cheese, shredded cabbage, salsa and other sides.