As the first birthday of this blog speedily approaches, I’ve found myself skimming back through some of my earliest posts, recipes and ramblings. It’s hard not to get a little nostalgic and sentimental when you do this, I’ve discovered. When I set out to do this blog, I really just wanted a new creative outlet and an ever-accessible place to house the various dishes and recipes that I enjoy and think others might as well. But I’m not sure I could have imagined just how much more I would get out of doing this. In addition to it just being a fun thing to do, food blogging has connected me to so many others who are equally as passionate about food and cooking but who possess their own unique perspectives, ideas and voices. The feeling of being constantly inspired by these people, as I have been over the past year, feels like a luxury of sorts. Almost intoxicating in its effect, deep-seated inspiration can both keep you up at night and get you up in the morning – and I mean this in the best of ways.
There has been many a late-night and early-morning occasion on which I have found myself doodling away in my little notebook, trying to capture ideas and thoughts, recipe concepts and flavor combinations that I can’t wait to test. Not everything I come up with makes it past the pages of this notebook; in fact, most things don’t. But the recipes you don’t see and the ideas that never really amount to much still carry a great deal of weight. It is those half-baked thoughts that help to get you where you’re going and ultimately lend shape to your final destination. The process of brainstorming and sorting out what will and won’t make it off the pages and onto the blog is half the fun.
This green chili posole recipe was one of the first things I posted on the blog and I didn’t even have any supporting photos to accompany it. I was wading my way through the blogging process and just beginning to establish what I wanted, or thought I wanted, it to be. Almost a year later, I’m still doing that – or at least a version of that. This “figuring it out” process is something that will most likely never stop, and I wouldn’t want it to if it could. The more I learn about food and cooking, and the more trends, traditions, tricks, and techniques to which I am exposed, the more I realize I don’t know. Like life, really. That’s part of the beauty of doing a blog though. You are always hovering somewhere between feeling like you know something and like you know nothing, and when you’re stuck in the latter, some source of inspiration inevitably kicks in … and away you go.
In honor of a very fun year spent feeling both smart and dumb, lost and inspired, I’m going to revisit one of my first recipes and shine a light on it once more. This Green Chili and Pork Tenderloin posole’ (a Mexican stew) is just plain wonderful, and in a life where I am increasingly drawn to more streamlined, efficient (i.e. one-pot, chop and drop) recipes, this one reigns supreme. It’s spicy, comforting, different, and unlike many other stews and soups, it’s actually kind of beautiful. Thanks green chilies! Topped simply with sour cream and avocado to cool it down, cilantro, pistachios or toasted pepitas, and torn soft or crushed hard tortillas for sopping, this is one dish that will have you coming back for more. It’s the kind of recipe that will make you pat yourself on the back and revel in just how much you DO know …
2 cubanelle peppers
3 poblano peppers
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs. of pork tenderloin, cut into chunks (no more than ½ – ¾ inch)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
2 cans of yellow hominy, drained (white works too)
1.5 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
Place all of the chilies on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven until the skins have blackened and blistered. This takes about 3 – 5 minutes per side (flip them once). When the skins are nice and black all over, remove the baking sheet from the oven/broiler and cover with a clean kitchen towel. The steam that this creates will help lift the skins off easily for you. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel, seed and chop the chiles and set aside.
Heal the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot. Add your pork and season with salt and pepper to taste (don’t actually taste it, just use however much you like). Cook the pork until the pieces are brown and the edges are crispy and then transfer to a plate for a bit. Set aside.
Add the celery, onion, and garlic and cook for just a few minutes, or until they’ve softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatillos and next three ingredients (your spices) and test for seasoning. Make any adjustments you see fit. After this lovely concoction has cooked for a few more minutes, add the stock, milk, hominy, honey, and the roasted chiles. Transfer half of the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return to the pot along with the pork and corn meal and simmer until the pork is tender, about 35 – 45 minutes.
Garnish as desired (I like sour cream, tortilla chips, lime wedges, avocado, pepitas, pistachios, pickled jalapenos, etc.), and enjoy.