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Pork and Tomatillo Stew

The loin, a relatively lean cut of pork, works beautifully in this clean-tasting stew that is chunky and hearty enough to satisfy die-hard chili fans. The ingredients are cut into bite-size pieces so that the distinctive flavors of the vegetables—tomatillos, tomatoes and carrots—shine through. When serving cheese aficionados, sprinkle each bowl with shredded pepper jack.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. canola oil 
  • 1 boneless pork loin, about 1 1/2 lb., cut into 2-inch chunks 
  • Kosher salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp. 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped 
  • 1 jalapeño chili, seeded and finely diced  
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 tsp. mild chili powder 
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin 
  • Pinch of dried oregano 
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour 
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth  
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice 
  • 3/4 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice 
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, thoroughly drained 
  • 1 lb. tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into 1-inch dice 
  • Hot-pepper sauce, such as Tabasco 
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish 
  • Corn tortilla chips for serving 

Directions:

Place a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot over high heat and add the oil. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper. Add to the pot and sear on all sides until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 7 minutes.

Add the chili, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the flour, stir to make a paste and cook for 1 minute more. Whisk in the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the carrot, potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pork is very tender, about 45 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue to simmer the stew until thickened, about 10 minutes. Shred the pork with 2 forks. Return the pork to the stew and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with tortilla chips. Serves 4.

A note from the butcher: All pork is not the same. When selecting top-quality pork, look for firm texture and the same fine-grain marbling you find in prime beef. Make sure that the pork is cut from the shoulder end of the loin rather than the sirloin end, which tends to be drier and less tender. For an excellent alternative cut, try well-marbled, boneless, pure-bred Berkshire pork shoulder.
— Robert Fleming, Alexander’s Prime Meats and Catering, San Gabriel, CA

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Cook and The Butcher, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, Inc., 2011).