Sunday, November 4, 2007

Guajillo Braised Pork with Potatoes

My roommate bought a few appliances for the kitchen. The first is this:

Ahhh, music. It makes SUCH a difference.

And the second item is this:

A blender! hmmmm, what can I do with a blender that I couldn't do before? I know! Mexican chile sauces! Yes!

Soooooo.....the next three posts will feature Mexican food. No, I'm not going to cover a burrito with cheddar cheese or make enchiladas. My food will be, dare I say, a little more authentic. So what will I be cooking? Well, as most of you have probably figured out, I'm a rice fiend so I will definitely be making Mexican rice. In addition, I can't think about Mexican food without thinking about beans so I will have to make a pot of beans. And animal protein...must have flesh of some sort. Let's start there...

This recipe is adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen.

Here's what we're working with today...the neat-o ingredient of the day is guajillo chile. Here's the ingredient lineup:

Dried chiles have a really unique flavor and aroma...totally different from the vegetal flavor of fresh green chiles. I encourage you to check them out if you have a chance. This recipe isn't a bad place to's really easy and teaches you the basic technique for dealing with nearly all dried chiles.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grab 2 ounces of guajillo chiles

and place them on a cookie sheet. Put the chiles into the oven for 5-7 minutes. You just want to see the chiles puff up a bit and slightly darken.

Be sure to get a whiff of the chiles as they're toasting. Scrumptious, if I do say so myself.

Allow the chiles to cool until manageable and then destem and shake out all the seeds. Place the seeded, stemmed chiles into a bowl and cover with hot tap water.

Weigh the chiles down with a bowl so they stay submerged. Allow the chiles to soak for a half hour.

While the chiles are soaking, chop up 1.5 lbs of pork shoulder. Just cube it up into 1/2 inch chunks.

Roughly chop 3 garlic cloves. Peel and cube 4 medium potatoes. I am keeping mine submerged in water so they don't oxidize and brown.

When the chiles are soaked, drain and place in a blender along with 2 cups of canned, diced tomatoes and the chopped garlic. Blend well.

Strain through a medium mesh strainer. Discard what remains in the strainer.

You will be left with what looks like loose tomato sauce.

Heat up an oven proof pot and add oil. Add the pork to brown.

Don't overcrowd the pan. You want to be able to see the bottom of the pan in between the pieces of pork. If you have to, brown the pork in batches. Turn down the heat if the pork is browning too quickly or if you start detecting burned bits at the bottom of the pan.

When the pork is browned, you will be left with yummy brown bits at the bottom of the pan.

Add the chile/tomato mixture, a few heavy pinches of salt and stir to dissolve the tasty brown bits. Add the pork and bring to a boil.

Pop a lid on the pot and drop in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the potatoes, stir, and place back in the oven. Cook for another 30 minutes. The potatoes should be cooked through and the pork should be about cooked. Cook the pork for a little longer if it's still chewy. After that, adjust the seasoning and you're good to go!

So here's my dinner from tonight:
Beans with queso fresco, poblano rice and guajillo-braised pork with cilantro. Keep reading for the rice and beans recipes. Not shown, warm corn tortillas. For dessert:
Yogurt with blueberry syrup. And a frozen, Halloween-sized Kit-Kat bar. I LOVE frozen candy bars...

Time- 1 hour and 45 minutes, an hour is unsupervised.
Food Cost-
Pork- $3.50
Incidentals- $1.50
Total-$5.00 or about a dollar a serving.
Feeds 4-6, generously.

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