Usually, I fit all my grocery shopping in on the weekend, but the pollution and chill have made me loathe to leave the house. I'd rather stay inside with my air filter on, reading a book and drinking smoky Oolong tea all day. Or knitting while catching up on my shows on Netflix.
This pork stew is what happens when it's 5pm on a grey Sunday night and I haven't left the house or gotten groceries. I want something warm and tasty, something easy, cheap and pretty fast. If it gives me leftovers for Monday night and I can add Mexican flavor to that list, well... I'm all over it.
Living in Beijing makes authentic Mexican tastes hard to come by, not to mention ingredients. I didn't have the larger, fruitier tasting dried peppers that Rojo Posole usually calls for, so I adlibbed. I didn't have hominy that Posole calls for, so I adlibbed. Substitution and flexibility are the mainstays of life around here. I hope you enjoy this stew/soup as much as we did.
2 tbsp corn oil
2 pounds of pork butt, or any cut that is nicely marbled, but not too fatty.
1 1/2 cups of whole, dried red peppers- I used mostly tien tsin, and a few dried bird's eye chiles
1 1/2 tbsp raisins
1/2 cup pepitas (peeled, raw pumpkin seeds)
5 cloves of garlic, peel
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp Mexican oregano, hand crushed (it truly makes a difference if it's Mexican or not)
1 fresh ear of corn cut in half and boiled briefly, or a can of corn (not creamed!!), drained
1 can kidney beans, not drained
1 can of whole, peeled or diced tomatoes
Chicken boullion- enough of whichever brand you like to make 5 cups of broth
Salt to taste
30 mintues before you begin cooking:
- Put a dry pan over medium high eat, and add the peppers. Briefly toast peppers, stirring frequently, and taking the pan off the heat when you begin to smell a toasty pepper aroma- maybe 2 minutes.
- Bring four cups of water to a boil, add the peppers and raisins, then turn off the heat. Allow the peppers to sit in the water reconstituting for 20-30 minutes.
Make the broth base:
- Once the peppers are softer, add half the peppers and raisins to your blender with half of the chile water and the remaining clove of garlic. Puree.
- Add the can of tomatoes to the blender and the pepitas, and puree until pretty smooth (pepitas will cook during the next stage and small pieces will add body to the soup, rather than being crunchy).
- Add your boullion and remaining chile water, blend.
- Now taste- it should be spicy, but not so spicy you can't tolerate it. The tomato should add a little tang, but not too much. The boullion should add salt, but not too much salt. Pepitas add body and calm spiciness. You shouldn't be able to taste the raisins at all, they are just meant to add a little bit of very subtle sweetness to make up for the lack of real, smoky, deep, fruity tasting Mexican peppers. If you can tolerate it, I highly recommend adding the rest of the raisins and more peppers. Adjust the broth base to your liking, keeping in mind that you will add more water to the final soup. It should be potent, not deadly spicy.
Begin the soup:
- Cut the meat into 1" cubes, pat dry with a paper towel, then salt.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high, and add the corn oil. When the oil is warm-hot, add half of the pork, and brown. Work in batches to brown all of the pork pieces, making sure not to crowd the pan. - While you wait for pok pieces to brown, set up your blender or food processor and get a ladle.
- When all the pieces are browned, remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon or tongs.
- Add the diced onion and 4 of the cloves of garlic, roughly chopped, to the same pot, using remaining oil and pork drippings to saute onion and garlic until soft. Add the Mexican oregano and stir.
- Add the pork back to the pot.
- Add the soup base to the pot and add enough water to fully cover the pork.
- Bring soup to simmer and cook for 40 minutes, or until pork is tender.
- When pork is tender, add the drained corn and the can of beans, liquid and all. Bring soup to a boil just to heat corn and beans through.
Sour cream, chopped cilantro, warm flour or corn tortillas, chipotles, fresh pico de gallo and of course, Mexican pickled onions.