Tacotopia, Episode #1: Chile Verde

*Tacotopia: a blissful place or state, where peace and love reign, tequila flows like rivers and tacos are plentiful, varied and delicious.

“You made a taco in Tahoe,” my pal Bob rolled poetically off his tongue, “Insane — what was that!?”

“I don’t remember,” I replied.

Upon further prodding and reflection, I did recall frying cheese and shrimp, recreating one of my most popular tacos thus far.

Bob was expressing his enthusiasm for my Year of the Taco idea — he was all behind it. (What’s not to be behind? Especially if you anticipate being one of the test subjects in this culinary experiment.)

Alex Tehrani digs in

Alex Tehrani digs in

“In Mexico,” I said to my pal Don, with whom I would be traveling to Jalisco in a couple months, “It’s going to be all about the taco. We are going to eat as many tacos as we can get ahold of. And tequila.”

A couple hours earlier that same day, a beautiful winter morning, I was walking amidst the clouds and mist in the state park with my pal, Alex, discussing love and loss, a perfect preamble to tacos. Back home, a large cauldron of chile verde bubbled away on the stove.

...and pure satisfaction!

…and the look of love

Chile verde. Richly marbled pork on the bone, melted over hours of slow cooking in an emerald elixir of fresh chiles, tomatillos, cilantro, onion and garlic. Scooped into a grilled corn tortilla and sprinkled with fresh onion and salsa. Call it a year.

It was a moment of inspiration at the grocery store. Perusing the “Manager’s Special” section (i.e. meat on the cusp of its expiration date), I discovered a beautiful organic free range pork shoulder at 50% off. Right next to it, a prime beef brisket also half off. “Tacos,” I whispered softly to no one, and slid the two packages into my basket.


I’m not sure how far Alex and I got on unravelling the meaning of love, but the chile verde tacos we ate upon our return spoke to our souls in a way that was both tender and timeless.


*    *    *

Chile verde (and the tacos that come from within)
serves a whole familia or two

1 3-4 lb. pork shoulder
4 large tomatillos
2 jalapeños, stemmed and halved
2 quarts water
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 Anaheim or hatch chiles
1 poblano chile
salt to taste
taco-size tortillas, toasted on a pan or grill

Bring 1 quart water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Turn heat to low, add tomatillos and jalapeños, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

While water mixture is cooling, broil the fresh chiles close to the heat source (I use a toaster oven) for about 3-5 minutes per side, until skin is black and blistering. Remove from oven, place in a glass or stainless steel bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or a wet dishcloth. Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove covering, and peel off skin. Remove stem and seeds from chiles, slice or break apart with your fingers into strips, and set aside.

Place water/jalapeño/tomatillo mixture in a blender, along with 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup cilantro and garlic. Puree until smooth.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven, and add sliced onion and sliced chiles. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, until translucent. Push onions to the side, raise heat to medium high, and sear the pork — fat side down — until browned.

Add puree to the pot, plus another quart water, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and lower heat to medium-low. Cook for 2 hours, turning pork occasionally to ensure all sides are getting time braising. After two hours, return heat to medium, season to taste with salt (probably 1-2 tsps.) and simmer for an additional 40 minutes, or until half the sauce has cooked away and it has thickened.

Allow to cool. Remove pork from sauce, remove meat from bone, and chop coarsely. Return meat to sauce and reheat over medium heat.

Toss remaining 1/2 cups cilantro and chopped onion together. Toast your corn tortillas, scoop a tablespoon or two of the meat and sauce onto each tortilla, sprinkle with cilantro and onion mixture, and serve.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Jan 22, 2016 @ 04:12:25

    OK YUM!


  2. Michelle
    Jan 22, 2016 @ 15:46:48

    Yeah, I reckon this Year of the Taco thing is gonna be fine.


  3. andreathompson2
    Jan 22, 2016 @ 21:53:56

    Very cute photos of that guy eating the tacos!


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