So I was devouring the February issue of Food & Wine magazine and I came across a recipe from Rick Bayless, one of my favorite Chicago chefs. Having spent more than a dozen years living in Texas, I regularly have huge cravings for Mexican food – the spicier, the better! So I said to myself, “Self, let’s make that!” Off I marched to pick up a pork shoulder and assorted other ingredients and I got to work. I have to share this with you because it’s just so damn good! And it makes a lot, so if you have a small household, like me, you can share it with your neighbors and you can also eat it for a week, because it’s so versatile, and you can also freeze some of it for later enjoyment. It’s basically a spicy, Mexican-style pork stew that you can eat in or on tortillas. Look how yummy!
1 1/4 pound of pork shoulder, cut into stew-sized cubes (about an inch or two in size)
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
3/4 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used russets; it’s what I had, and they worked fine)
2 Tbl vegetable oil
1 fresh chorizo sausage (the Mexican kind; not the Spanish kind. Mexican chorizo is like a bratwurst or Italian-style sausage; Spanish is the hard, cured kind you can eat sliced up)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced up
One 28-ounce can of peeled Italian tomatoes, smushed up and drained
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced, and 2-4 tsp of the adobo sauce, depending how spicy you want it
Salt and sugar, to season (yes, a pinch of sugar!)
WHAT YOU DO
1) First you ask yourself why you didn’t buy pork shoulder already cut up (sheesh!) and you get your sharpest knife out, along with a big box of caution, and butcher that pork shoulder!
Yes, I plowed through this 3 1/2 pound bad boy and wound up with a little more than 1 1/4 pound of chunks. Hurray!
2) In a large saucepan, simmer (uh huh) the pork, marjoram, thyme and bay leaves in 4 cups of salted water (I put in 2 Tbl of salt), partially covered, about 45 minutes (the meat should be tender). I tossed the bone in, too, because Ifigured it would add flavor (I chucked it after I fished the meat out). Now, the meat is going to look all gray and not that pretty (hence no photo),and that is ok. After 45 minutes, use a slotted spoon to put the meat onto a dinner plate. RESERVE 2 CUPS OF THE PORK BROTH!! Do not chuck it! Let the meat cool for about 10 minutes, and then cut it or tear with your hands if you’re feeling primal, into smaller bits (the size that would work in a taco or burrito type of situation).
3) Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling, salted water, for about 8 or minutes (drop the spuds in once the water comes to a boil). Drain the potatoes and just let ’em sit for a bit in the colander. (Chuck the potato water.)
4) Now: get a large, high-sided skillet out. Heat the veg oil over medium heat. Take the casing off the chorizo (yes, it’s a yucky job, but you just gotta do it), and crumble it into the pan. Cook the chorizo until it’s really well-browned — about 10 minutes over medium heat. Put that on a plate (you can put it on same plate the pork is living on).
5) Keep the yummy chorizo fat that is in the skillet and add the pork and onions to it. Cook about 10 minutes and stir it about, browning it as much as you can (given the size of the skillet and amount of meat and onions). Now add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes (I just smush ’em up with my hands, from the can, and leave the sauce; you can freeze that tomato sauce, tho, and use it for something else down the road.) Add the chorizo. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the spuds, the chopped-up chipotle and the adobo sauce. I used 2-3 tsps and that was plenty hot for me. TASTE AS YOU GO, so you get the right amount of heat. Add 1 1/2 cups or a little more pork broth.
6) Let the whole lot simmer uncovered (or sans sombrero, as I like to say!) for at least 10 minutes. Taste it. Add some salt. And a pinch of sugar! Maybe a 1/4 tsp , max. This is Rick Bayless brilliance, as it lets everything really sing, flavor-wise.
EAT! You can pile this into a flour tortilla (I found low-carb ones, just to experiment, because my ass does not need any more carbs, and you know what? They’re good.) But you can also use corn tortillas. Or you could eat this with rice. Or beans. It’s so versatile! Rick suggests some very thinly sliced red onion, sliced avocado and crumbled queso fresco (a Mexican-style farmer’s cheese – a cow’s milk cheese that’s kind of the texture of feta; salty and delicious).
And for your beverage enjoyment, may I suggest a nice, fruity rich shiraz — or a nice, cold beer would do as well! Enjoy! And many thanks to Chef Rick Bayless for the delicious inspiration!