Monday, November 8, 2010

Lean, Green Braised Mexican Pork Tenderloin

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I've been tinkering with this recipe for awhile and finally have it right where I want it, with tomatillos instead of tomatoes and adding a long, slow braise to the cooking method. The result is a fragrant and flavorful stew with lean pork that falls apart. I've honestly never had pork tenderloin that was this tender.

Rick Bayless wrote the original version. It's in his fantastic Mexican Everyday cookbook. We enjoyed his version, but it didn't deliver on its promise. The meat wasn't tender enough and the bland dish belied the flavorful ingredients that went into it. Sorry, Rick. But you'd agree that this is really good.

To make a bigger feast, I made Chipotle Shrimp as an appetizer (and chips and guacamole) and served the braised tenderloin with Black Beans and warmed corn tortillas. But you could omit all that for an easier weeknight meal.

This would cook up quite well in a slow cooker, too - but you still have to brown and saute. If you are a Dutch oven-user, a 3-quart covered pot is all you'll need.

Braised Mexican Pork Tenderloin
Print recipe only here

Serves 4

Note: Start this around 2:30 and enjoy a wonderful meal a few hours later. You won't be cooking that entire time - but the pork will.

1 to 1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin
2 T canola oil
2 fresh poblano peppers
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves, pressed
5-6 tomatillos
3/4 cup beef broth OR 2/3 cup water
1 t hickory smoke
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt

Corn tortillas, to eat alongside

Preheat broiler.

Remove husks from tomatillos, rinse, and place on a sheet pan. Broil for about 5-6 minutes, turning midway, until browned.

Roast the peppers over an open flame or under a broiler under they are uniformly blackened and have softened a bit. You can do this right on your stovetop by setting the peppers directly above the flame.

When done, place in a bowl and cover. Allow them to cool.

Turn down oven to 200F

Peel and halve the onion and cut it crosswise into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Reserve.

Rub the blackened skin off the poblanos, remove the stems and seeds inside and rinse under water to remove the excess charred skin and seeds. Slice into long strips, about 1/4-inch wide, and then chop into pieces about two inches in length. Reserve.

Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels and trim away all visible fat. Cut the tenderloin into 1-inch cubes and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt.

Heat the canola oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet (12 inches). And pork (do this in batches if necessary, to avoid overcrowding) and brown all over. Transfer to a plate and reserve.

Add the onion and poblano strips to the same pot and saute over a medium flame for 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatillos, smashing them up with a wooden spoon. Add beef broth (or water), Worcesteshire, and hickory smoke and bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2-3 hours.

Add cilantro and taste for seasoning, adding more salt as needed. Serve with warmed corn tortillas.

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