Chilatole – Pork in Salsa Verde

Dave Bondlow got up early on Thursday morning and drove to Pine Plains New York to a small slaughter house that handles animals raised on farms in the immediate area using humane practices. He picked up one 180 pound pig, split and chilled.

As soon as Dave arrived in Sag Harbor I got busy breaking down the carcass, first removing the primals then separating the rib bones from the loins. The art of butchery takes time, as a novice working with whole animals, this was an exciting first step.

Serving 180 pounds of pork calls for a plan and this one was generated by a wedding rehearsal dinner that I executed for my late friend Christian Wolffer and his ex wife Naomi Wolffer-Marks. It was in celebration of their daughter Joanna’s wedding to Max, a handsome young man that she meet on a train 3 years ago.

The plan in this case called for “Chilatole” a pork stew introduced to me by my sous chef Raul, served along with a seafood and chicken paella and slice hanger steak to 120 guests at the Wolffer Estate inBridgehampton, NY.

The idea of a Mexican flavored celebration came from Naomi and Joanna, I thought the Chilatole would serve well because it provides deep, rich Mexican flavors and would be easy to plate and serve family style for a large group of people.

Ingredients – this recipe serves 6:

4lb pork (picnic butt or shoulder butt)
2 tomatillo
1 cup chopped onions
10 jalapeno peppers
3 zucchini (chopped)
4 garlic cloves
4 corn cobs (kernels only)
6 bay leaves
1.5 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3 corn tortillas
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

The first step was to bone the pork primals (ham, shoulder butt and picnic butt) and then cut each piece again into 4 smaller portions. Then we placed them in 3 hotel pans (3 inch deep roasting pans) and placed them in a 375ºF oven (wrapped in foil) for 3 hours. The bones were placed in a large pot over medium heat and mixed with mirpoix (onions, celery and carrots chopped rough) stirred until the vegetables were soft and then covered with water. The stock was simmered for as long as the pork roasted.

The next step involved roasting a mixture of vegetables (tossed in vegetable oil) on a sheet pan in the oven with the pork. The mixture of tomatillo, onion, jalapeno, zucchini, and garlic was roasted for an hour until the onions were soft, then transferred to a blender and pureed until smooth.

When the pork came out of the oven, it cooled for an hour in refrigeration and the stock was strained and then skimmed of any fat that rose to the surface. After the pork had cooled to a temperature that allowed it to be handled, it was cut into cubes a little smaller than a golf ball and returned to a hotel pan. We then poured the stock over the top and added salt, pepper, cumin and ground coriander seed to taste, followed by several bay leaves. The pan was returned to the oven and cooked for another hour until service.

Just prior to service we added corn and allowed the corn to cook with the pork for 20 minutes. To finish the dish we added a few cups of the vegetable puree, tasting as we went, to make sure the flavor was to our taste. Then the service bowls were filled with stew and topped with shredded, fried, corn tortillas and cilantro sprouts.

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