The sauce is the story here. That's what you'll spend the most time and money on with this Aaron Sanchez recipe from his La Comida Del Barrio cookbook. It's essentially a simple tomatillo salsa accentuated with pumpkin seeds and roasted poblano, both of which deepen the flavor making it earthier, spicier, and more addicting. Though the preparation can initially seem excessive, everything is done for a reason. The chiles are lightly blackened, pureed, cooked in a bit of lard, and then, finally, reduced with some chicken stock. Each step intensifies the flavor. The simple sautéed pork chop won't know what hit him.
The only issue I had: the sauce didn't quite thicken as much as I would have liked. Though flavorful, it was a touch watery. The next day I just reduced that sucker even more and the flavor miraculously deepened, and the spice doubled. Just remove the pork chops if you decide to cook the sauce down a bit more at the end. You'll be left with a sauce that's good enough to ladle over just about any meat, including chicken or shrimp.
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
- 4 cloves garlic
- 20 small tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1 jalapeno
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 cup hulled green pumpkin seeds
- 2 cups coarsely chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons dried epazote
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons lard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 4 bone-in pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss the onion halves, garlic, tomatillos, and jalapenos with 1/2 cup of the oil. Add about half of this mixture, or as many that will fit in one layer, to the skillet. Cook, turning occasionally until slightly blackened on all sides. Repeat with the other half. Toss the cooked ones in a large bowl except the jalapeno, which needs to have its stem and seeds removed. Then add it to the bowl.
After they cool for a little bit, blend everything up in batches. Transfer the pureed sauce to a large bowl and set aside.
Preheat the broiler. Coat the poblano in 2 tablespoons of the oil and then set underneath the broiler. Cook, turning occasionally, until blackened on all sides. Transfer to a plastic bag and let steam for 15 minutes. Then remove the blackened skin, stem, and seeds. Roughly chop the flesh.
Add the poblano, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, epazote, and 2 cups of the broth to the blender and puree until smooth. Combine with the tomatillo sauce.
Add the lard to a large pot or dutch oven set over medium heat. Carefully pour in the chile mixture (it might splatter). Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the remaining stock and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook for 10 minutes.