More a savory, spicy soup than a stew, this dish is on the menu every day at Work & Class restaurant, in Denver. Chef and co-owner Dana Rodriguez grew up with this dish, a specialty of her father's, on a small farm in Mexico without electricity or running water. Through sheer grit and talent, she rose through the ranks of the Denver restaurant world, from dishwasher to chef at her own establishment. "The green chile is called 'Loca' because that's my nickname," says Rodriguez. She earned the name years ago as the newly promoted sous-chef at Rioja, one of Denver's top restaurants, where she was heckled for months by the staff--until she blew up and let some obscenities fly. From then on, she ran the kitchen in peace.
Our suggested wine pairing: Wine by Joe 2015 Pinot Blanc (Willamette Valley; $14).
10 fresh New Mexico or Anaheim green chiles, or 1 lb. thawed frozen New Mexico green chiles
5 poblano chiles
2 jalapeño chiles
6 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed well in warm water, then dried
1 large white onion, halved and peeled
About 6 tbsp. canola oil, divided
3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-in. cubes
6 garlic cloves, gently smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
About 1 tbsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 qts. low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
1 bunch fresh cilantro with stems
6 fresh epazote leaves* (optional)
For topping: 2/3 cup each crumbled fresh goat cheese or queso fresco;
very thinly sliced red radishes;
toasted salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas);
and chopped cilantro
Warm corn tortillas*
How to Make It
Preheat a grill to medium heat (350° to 400°). Put chiles, tomatillos, and onion in a very large bowl. Drizzle with about 3 tbsp. oil and turn to coat well. Grill vegetables, covered, turning as needed, until softened and charred in spots, about 12 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp. oil in a 6- to 8-qt. pot over medium-high heat. In three or four batches, brown pork pieces until golden brown, adding more oil as needed, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer pork with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
Stem chiles, but don't peel or seed them.
Return pot to medium heat, add garlic, and cook until pale brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in cumin, coriander, oregano, 1 tsp. salt, and the pepper; let sizzle 1 minute. Stir in grilled vegetables and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes to blend flavors.
Add stock, cover pot, and bring to a boil; then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer 20 minutes, covered.
In batches, blend vegetables with their liquid, the cilantro, and epazote (if using) until almost smooth. Fill blender no more than half-full and cover blender top with a towel, since hot liquids can spurt up.
Pour green chile sauce back into pot, add pork, and simmer, covered, over low heat until pork is very tender, about 1 hour. Season with 2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste.
Ladle into bowls and top with goat cheese, radishes, pepitas, and chopped cilantro. Serve with tortillas.
*Find epazote, an earthy-tasting, large-leafed herb, at Mexican grocery stores (look for the fresh herb; it has almost no flavor when dried). To warm tortillas, wrap in a kitchen towel and microwave 1 minute.
Work & Class, Denver
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