Puerco con Verdolagas

October 23, 2012

Puerco con Verdolagas

From Paula Redinger, Tucson CSA

Pork, tomatillos, chiles and verdolagas (purslane) are a traditional combination in Mexican cuisine.  Since I’m always seeking to use what is already in my kitchen, here’s my experimental variation.  As usual, I don’t have exact amounts for some things – let your preferences guide you! This dish came out good enough that it seemed worth writing down.

1 – 1 ½ lbs pork – country style ribs, each cut into 2 or 3 pieces,  or shoulder roast (Boston Butt), cut into large (2”) cubes
Cooking fat of your choice
½ onion, chopped or sliced
Garlic – 2-6 cloves, minced or pureed
Ground cumin
Mexican oregano
2 or 3 tomatoes, chopped (I used red ones, but it might be interesting to use green ones, or a combination of the two)
Chiles – fresh or roasted, chopped (I omitted these since I had some leftover chile sauce that needed a home.  If I hadn’t, I’d definitely add some heat by adding some of the chopped chiles I freeze when they are plentiful CSA item.)
Any stray bits of chile sauce, tomato sauce, broth, tomato paste hanging out in your fridge
Water or broth
Salt, Pepper
1 bunch purslane, tender stems and leaves chopped.  Reserve the thicker stems for pickled purlane stems, if you like.

Brown pork on high heat in cooking fat.  Work in batches if needed.  Remove pork, turn down heat, sauté onions until soft.  Add the cumin, garlic, oregano and stir around a few times.  Put the pork back into the pot, add the tomatoes, chiles, any stray bits from your fridge that need a home (I had about ¼ cup each of tomato sauce and red chile sauce), and enough water or broth to barely cover the meat.  Bring to the simmer and cook on very low heat – either at the barest simmer on the stove, or in a low oven, if your pot is heatproof, or transfer to a crock pot.

While the meat is cooking, blanch the purslane in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  (Every traditional recipe I’ve seen includes this step, although I’m tempted to say you could just toss the chopped purslane directly into the pork pot for the last minutes of cooking.)

When the meat is tender and done to your liking, (this may take 1-3 hours, depending on the cut of meat, your taste, and your method of cooking), add the purslane and cook a few more minutes.  Spoon off excess fat if desired and correct seasoning.

Serve with tortillas, the grain of your choice, or (if you’re feeling cross-cultural), polenta. A green salad, and/or some cucumber spears, radish slices or salad turnip pieces are a nice cooling and refreshing accompaniment.

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