Today I’ve been working on an article about chiles, and as such, testing recipes that use them. My countertop is covered with dried guillano, ancho and as-yet-unidentified green, red and purplish chile peppers.
One of the recipes I tested was sort of a pulled pork-goulash-sloppy José kind of thing. Using pork shoulder, I wanted to braise it, so since I didn’t get started until after 10 pm I browned it first in my skillet, then put it all in the slow cooker last night before I went to bed, fully intending to get up at 3am and check on it – in fact, I got a little giddy at the idea of sitting alone at the kitchen table in the middle of the night, writing something stirring that could only come to me at such an odd hour. The single light above me might swing subtly back and forth, as if I was in the bowel of a ship. Why does the image of a brilliant and intent writer always include darkness save for a single light source?
So yeah, at 3am I could not think of anything I wanted to do less than to go downstairs and sit at the kitchen table to think Deep Thoughts. Especially since last night a rare event occurred – W didn’t climb into bed and claw at my face all night long. (The only problem with this scenario is that I always wake up anyway, assuming he has suffocated or sleepwalked out a window.)
So tonight, dinner was taken care of. Being a sloppy mixture of pork, tomatoes and chilies, I figured it would do well over a wedge of cornbread, to which I added some sauteed orange pepper and grated queso fresco – fresh cheese – which I grabbed at La Tiendona market the other day as I was chile pepper shopping. (Cheddar would work just as well.)
I think, though, that there are other things you could do with this. 1) add a can of beans and call it chili, or 2) add a few spoonfuls of low fat sour cream, serve it over buttered noodles and call it goulash. But I’ve always been a fan of corn bread. It would also work swimmingly in your Crockpot.
Chile-pulled Pork Goulash/Sloppy José
6 dried guajillo chiles
1 dried ancho chile
1 14 oz. (398 mL) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. hot or 1 Tbsp. mild smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
canola or olive oil, for drizzling
3-4 lbs. pork shoulder, with or without bone
2 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 yellow or orange pepper, seeded and sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup sour cream or crème fraiche (optional)
Buttered egg noodles, steamed rice, or cornbread, for serving
Cut the ends off the chilies and empty out the seeds. Tear or chop them into a bowl and pour boiling water overtop; let stand for 10 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of oil in a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, and brown the pork shoulder on all sides. Transfer it to a Dutch oven or slow cooker. (If you want to cook this in the oven instead of the slow cooker, preheat it to 325°F.) Add the onions to the pan and cook until they start to turn brown; transfer the Dutch oven or slow cooker and brown the peppers in the same way. Add them to the pork and onions, and add the garlic, sugar and salt to the pot too.
Drain all but about 1/3 cup of the water from the soaked peppers, and add them to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, oregano, paprika and cumin, and pulse until well blended and smooth. Pour over the pork.
If you are cooking the pork in the oven put a lid on the Dutch oven and put it into the oven for about 3 hours. If you are using a slow cooker, set it on low for about 6 hours. Take the lid off and test the meat – it should pull apart easily with a fork. Remove any bones and continue cooking with the lid off if you’d like to thicken the sauce. Skim any fat from the surface, or cool the pork completely, then refrigerate it overnight; this makes it easier to pull the solidified fat from the surface, and it always tastes better reheated the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to improve.
Using two forks, shred the meat and distribute it through the sauce. If you like, stir the sour cream or crème fraiche into the mixture right before serving over noodles, rice, or a wedge of warm cornbread.