This simplicity of this dish means the flavour depends on the quality of the pork and tomatoes. Oaxaca-grown chile de agua look like a smaller poblano but are much hotter. Since they’re not widely available, Kennedy suggests using a fresh green chili.
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1 kilogram (2 1/4 pounds) pork shoulder or stewing pork, with some fat, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 sprigs Oaxacan oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dry Mexican oregano
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons melted lard or vegetable oil, if necessary
800 g (1 3/4 pounds) tomatoes, roasted (recipe below)
1 to 2 serrano chilies, toasted
Cilantro leaves (optional)
800 grams (1 3/4 pounds) ripe tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the pork: Place the pork in a pot where it fits snugly with garlic, oregano and salt. Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until meat is almost cooked, about 40 to 50 minutes. Strain and reserve the broth. You will need about 6 cups, so reduce over high heat or add water to get to that amount.
Return meat to pan with 11/2 cups broth and cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat until broth is absorbed, meat is tender and fat has melted. Lightly brown the meat in the fat, adding the lard if necessary.
To toast chilies, place in a nonstick pan over medium heat and let skin blacken. Peel skin off before using. It will be less hot if you discard the seeds.
For the roasted tomatoes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut tomatoes in half and scrape out seeds. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Place cut side up on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until skins are browned and shrivelled and tomatoes are soft.
Process tomatoes and chilies in food processor until fairly smooth and add to pan.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring to prevent sticking, until sauce is very thick, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add remaining broth and simmer until sauce is reduced to a medium consistency, about 15 minutes. There should be enough sauce to coat the meat. Garnish with coriander leaves if desired.
Suggested Wine Pairings
The spicy, aromatic pork, with its subtly sweet tomato sauce, pulls me in two directions. Try a fruity, chilled rosé or a supple, savoury red based on grenache, such as cannonau from Sardinia. - Beppi Crosariol