Chile Colorado

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I got this recipe from Wesley Avila’s cookbook called Guerilla Tacos, published in 2017. It’s probably one of the most conservative recipes in the book, but I just had to taste the sauce.

The chef certainly proves that tacos can pretty much be made with anything, highlighting in his recipes some with uni, foie gras, mussels, sun chokes, and more. As Mr. Avila states in the introduction, “A taco is a blank canvas.” Indeed, Chef Avila. But please keep uni out of mine.

Over the years I’ve made lots of Mexican and Southwestern “stews,” but I’ve never made chile Colorado, so it was a perfect recipe, and one that wouldn’t revolt my husband. (I have to admit I didn’t enjoy uni when I first had it.)

The book is fabulous, but to me, it’s mostly because of the story Chef Avila tells, from his childhood with Mexican-born parents, his mother dying, to his time as a teamster, then attending culinary school, working at a fine dining restaurant, then finally with a food truck, called, not surprisingly, Guerilla Tacos.

Although of Mexican heritage, Mr. Avila makes sure the reader understands that the recipes in the cookbooks are “not “authentic” Mexican food. “The truth is there is no such thing as an authentic taco. “Taco makers have always known this.”

Chile Colorado

3 pounds beef, in one piece, like a hanger steak
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
8 Roma tomatoes, chopped, seeded
1 cup husked, rinsed, and halved tomatillos
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 dried pasilla pepper, stemmed and seeded
2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 dried chile morita, stemmed and seeded
2 bay leaves
1 cup water
16-18 corn tortillas, warmed
2 red onions, very thinly sliced

Trim the meat, and cut into 1/2-by-2-inch pieces, like you’re making fajitas. Season with salt and pepper.

In a 10” cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Working in four batches, sear the beef until it is browned, about 2 minutes per batch. You don’t want it cooked too much, just coated with oil and browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to another container.

In the same pan, over medium heat, sauté the yellow onion and cumin seeds until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. (I added another tablespoon of oil first.) Add the tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, all 3 dried chiles, and bay leaves and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatillos are cooked and the chiles are soft.

Turn the heat to a medium-low and add the water to keep it saucy. (My sauce didn’t require any water, perhaps because I used a lid to cook the tomatoes and tomatillo mixture.) Transfer to a blender and process to make the sauce as smooth as possible. I added about 1 tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste because my Roma tomatoes were not super ripe.

Return the meat to the pan and cover with the sauce.

Serve family style, with the tortillas and red onions, and let everybody make their own tacos.

I noticed a couple of mistakes… nothing huge. But for one thing, why worry about it the beef is from an intact piece, rather than, say, 2 flank steaks? Since you’re going to be cutting it up anyway?

And, Mr. Avila writes to add the pasilla, and dried chiles to the pan, when all three chile peppers used in this recipe are dried.

I also would have preferred a weight of tomatillos, but I know the outcome plus or minus an ounce of tomatillo isn’t crucial. Just some editing issues.

This chile Colorado sauce was a hit. Not much heat, which can always be added, but a lot of depth of flavors.

And, a big thank you to Greg, from Sippitysup.com, for telling us all about Guerilla Tacos.

Pork Chile Verde

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Pork chile verde just means pork with green chile peppers, which I’m sure everyone knows. But there’s one other green component that’s typically in a chile verde, and that’s tomatillos. If you’ve never worked with them before, I really think you should at least make this recipe to experience the deliciousness that is a tomatillo.

Tomatillos have papery husks, and once they’re removed, they look like green tomatoes although they’re not related to tomatoes at all.

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When you buy tomatillos make sure they’re firm, not wrinkled up or rotten. They can be cooked or used raw. For me, raw tomatillo salsas are a bit on the tart side, so I use them in cooked sauces like in this chile verde.

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Here’s what I did to make this hearty pork stew with green chiles and tomatillos:

Pork Chile Verde

1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, quartered
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil
4 pound trimmed pork butt, cut into bite-sized pieces
Black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery plus leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 – 4 ounce cans chopped green chiles
2 bunches cilantro, rinsed, divided
3 cups broth, divided
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Sour cream, optional
Chopped cilantro, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, or 375 degrees on a roast setting.

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Place the cut up tomatillos, onion, and garlic cloves on a jelly-roll pan and sprinkle with some olive oil.

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Roast them for about 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, heat up some olive oil in a large dutch oven on the stove over high heat. In batches, brown the pork.

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Continue with the remaining pork, adding a little more olive oil as necessary, and placing the browned pork in a large bowl; season generously with black pepper.

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When you are done with the pork, turn down the heat to medium, add the onion, celery, and green onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Then add the green chiles, 1 bunch of chopped cilantro, and 2 cups of broth. (I’ve even used a good Mexican beer to braise the pork, and it’s good!)

Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot, and season with oregano and cumin. Bring the mixture to a boil, then gently simmer for about 30 minutes.

Keep the pot covered with a lid if you feel there’s not enough liquid to braise the pork. Or, if you feel there’s too much liquid, leave the pot uncovered and let the liquid evaporate gently.

Place the roasted vegetables in a blender jar. Add the second bunch of cilantro, and the remaining 1 cup of broth. Blend until almost smooth.

Pour the green sauce into the pot with the meat.

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Stir well, and simmer for about 1 hour.

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Pork chile verde is a stew. It should be thick, not some cubes of pork floating in a green soup. If you need to reduce the liquid a bit, don’t hesitate to do so. It will not adversely affect the overall dish.

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I like my chile verde with a dollop of sour cream!

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I also sprinkled on a little ground pink peppercorns. You could also use some cayenne flakes.

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Chopped cilantro also adds to the freshness of the chile verde; chopped green onions can also be included.

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note: I usually make pork chile verde the day before I first serve it. Somehow, it’s just better that way.

Baked Tomatillo Brie

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I wish I’d come up with this recipe myself. And I should have. I mean, I love baked brie, and I love tomatillos. But typically, brie is topped with a pear chutney, a cranberry sauce, or even honey. The sweetness pairs so well with the creamy, warm brie.

But when I think of it, tomatillos are sweet also! Which is probably why cookbook author Eugenia Bone swooned when she first ate a baked tomatillo brie. She credits her friend, a proclaimed tomatillo “queen,” with the original recipe.

I’ve written about two of Ms. Bone’s books now, one a cookbook entitled Well Preserved, which contains this brie recipe and my most favorite condiment Foriana Sauce, and the other, more a memoir with recipes, entitled At Mesa’s Edge.

From the above book I’ve made her leek and cilantro pesto tart. Fabulous.

So back to this baked tomatillo brie recipe, I happened to have a brie in the freezer, left over from the holidays. I thought it was a good time to see if brie can maintain its quality once thawed. It’s been 6 months. So this was a perfect time to try out this recipe! Even though I really don’t need any reason to bake a brie….

Baked Tomatillo Brie
Adapted from Well Preserved

1 onion
2 Poblano peppers
2 jalapeno peppers
4 cloves garlic
2 pounds fresh tomatillos
A few sprigs of fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to a “roast” setting, or at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel the onion and slice it into wedges. Place them in a large roasting pan.

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Remove the stems from the chile peppers and chop them up into uniform pieces. Place those over the onions.

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Remove the peels from the tomatillos.

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Give them a gentle warm water rinse to remove any stickiness. Dry them, then cut them into equal pieces and place in the pan. Mine were on the average size, so I cut them into sixths.

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Drizzle a little olive oil over the top, and give them a sprinkle of salt.

Roast everything until nice and browned. Let cool.

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Once cool, place everything from the roasting pan into a blender jar or food processor. Add a little cilantro.

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Blend until it’s the consistency you like; I prefer to have some texture.

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To be fair, there is no oil in Ms. Bone’s recipe, and no cilantro. I just can’t use tomatillos without at least a little bit a fresh cilantro. I kept it to a small amount, so this sauce stayed a sauce, and didn’t turn into a salsa.

What I did omit from Ms. Bone’s tomatillo sauce recipe was lemon juice. I just didn’t think it was necessary. Tomatillos, to me, are already lemony.

In Ms. Bone’s recipe, she simply let a ripe Brie come to room temperature. Then she poured the tomatillo sauce over the top. She didn’t specify if the sauce was hot or at room temperature.

My brie won’t be that runny, I know, because it’s not extremely ripe. Plus, it was frozen at one time. So I’ll be heating mine up to get that runniness that so typefies a baked brie. And the sauce will be hot as well. And instead of baking? I’m using my microwave.

Place the room temperature brie on a microwave-safe serving platter. Pour over the desired amount of tomatillo sauce. Heat in the microwave. I did this gradually, taking advantage of the power controls, because I didn’t want to “cook” the brie.

Serve with chips – I used a fun roasted red bell pepper-flavored variety.

And then, break open the brie and watch magic happen.

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The mix of the warm brie and tomatillo sauce was absolutely perfect. You’ll just have to make your own to discover this fabulous flavor combination.

And the brie? I would never have guessed that it had previously been frozen. Which is really good to know. Don’t ever throw brie away!!!