Editor's note: The Busy Kitchen is a Monday column written by two area chefs - Tiffany Poe and Valarie Carter - who also happen to be mothers of young children. They write about nutrition, cooking for kids and more.
Don't get me wrong, I like Thanksgiving. But once a year is enough for me.
When it's over, I'm always hankering for something with just a little more bite than butter, salt, sugar, squash and sage.
In fact, to combat the potential blandness, our family enjoys poached eggs over tamales with chili con carne and a side of Cuban black beans for Thanksgiving brunch. We just need something with a little kick - and that's where chili verde comes in.
A Southwest favorite, chili verde is simply a cooked green chili and tomatillo sauce served over your choice of meat.
My husband killed a wild hog last spring and we've enjoyed chili verde with ground pork several times since, but my favorite way to prepare it is out of shredded pork butt or shoulder. It's wonderful eaten in a bowl as you would any other chili, but my family loves pork tacos made with soft corn tortillas.
Use avocado, fresh cilantro, red onion, sour cream and lime juice to accessorize your tacos.
Or, this luscious, green sauce is excellent over leftover turkey.
I've seen some slow-cooker recipes for chili verde using pork loin or pork tenderloin, but I find these cuts to be too lean to hold up to long-term, Crock-pot cooking.
If you aren't already familiar with tomatillos, which originated from Mexico, they look similar to an unripe, green tomato but are surrounded by a lighter green, papery husk.
Remove the husk and rinse well before using. It's not necessary to core them.
Tomatillos are low in calories and fat but high in potassium and are good sources of vitamins C and A, calcium and folic acid.
The green chilies also add a healthy dose of fiber, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamin C. Serve the pork with Cuban black beans and you're sure to beat the blandness blues.
SHREDDED PORK CHILI VERDE
Although I've provided a slow-cooker recipe, I have to admit that I prefer the Dutch oven method because caramelizing the sugars in the meat creates extra flavor. Sear the pork in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, add the sauce, cover with a lid and cook in a 250 degree oven until pork is tender, about 3 to 4 hours. You could sear the meat, then add it to the slow-cooker, but to me that's just one extra pot to clean. I like to make a huge recipe at once so that I can freeze half of it for another meal. You'll need a 7 quart slow-cooker to accommodate this recipe. If your slow-cooker is smaller you can adjust the amounts accordingly.
16 large tomatillos, husks removed and halved
6 pablanos chiles, split lengthwise, seeds and stems removed
3 jalapeno chiles, split lengthwise, seeds and stems removed
2 yellow onions, cut into 8 chunks each
5 garlic cloves
6 pounds pork butt or shoulder, (I like to trim off the fat cap so it's not so fatty after it's cooked)
1 tablespoon dry oregano
2 teaspoons ground sage
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Lime wedges, sour cream, chopped red onion, chopped or torn cilantro, avocado slices, shredded Monterey jack cheese or queso fresco, for garnish
1. Line two large sheet pans with foil. Preheat oven to broil. You may need to leave the oven door ajar so that the broil element will stay on.
2. Place tomatillos, pablanos, jalapenos, onions, and garlic on sheet pans.
3. Place under broiler until vegetables are very dark brown with a few specks of black.
4. Place roasted vegetables in a blender or food processor and puree. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Add oregano, sage, cumin, salt and pepper.
5. Place pork in slow-cooker and pour sauce over.
6. Cook on low for about 8 hours or until pork is very tender and falling apart.
7. Using 2 meat forks, pull the pork apart to shred it.
8. To serve, heat corn tortillas in the microwave until steaming and pliable. (I like to place a folded, damp paper towel on either end of a stack of tortillas and place between two plates, one inverted to make a lid.) Fill tortillas with pork and sauce. Serve with desired garnishes of your choice.
CUBAN BLACK BEANS
I like to make a large batch of these beans and put half in the freezer. These are great as a side dish or main dish and also would work perfectly cooked in your slow-cooker.
Serves about 16 as a side dish
2 pounds dry black beans or turtle beans, rinsed
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper (any color) small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup good-quality, extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
4-6 scallions, thinly sliced
1. In a medium large sauce pan, combine beans, onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano and black pepper. (It's important not to add salt to dry beans at the beginning of the cooking process. They won't absorb water as readily and take longer to cook.)
2. Cover with 2 quarts of water.
3. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.
4. Cover with a lid but slightly ajar.
5. Cook for about 2 hours or until tender.
6. Simmer to remove excess liquid. The beans should be thick.
7. Remove from heat, add salt and stir in olive oil until there are no pools of oil on the surface.
8. Garnish with scallions.
Original Print Headline: Beat blandness with kick of chili
A native Oklahoman, Valarie Carter earned a bachelor's degree in English from Oklahoma State University and an associate of arts in culinary arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta. She, her husband and their children live in Muskogee.