Puerco en Salsa Verde (pork in green sauce) is a very popular Mexican dish that marries chiles and tomatillos with pork meat, usually the shoulder. You’ll find a few variations, with or without corn and at various degrees of heat = picante. One element that is always present, is that zingy tang of the tomatillos.
To contrast, or juxtapose, the tang, I added a radish and red pepper raita — of sorts. Raita is an Indian or Pakistani sauce or condiment, usually prepared with yogurt, cucumbers and various herbs. My version, with a Latin flavor, used crema fresca instead of the yogurt and some colorful Easter radishes and red peppers. This made for a deliciously fresh, cool and ever so slightly sweet topping for the tomatillo and chile sauce. It is juxtaposition perfection and tastes GOOD!
Pork in Green Sauce with Radish and Crema Fresca Raita
1 lb pork shoulder or butt, cubed
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, whole
1-2 serrano peppers (to taste)
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cups fresh corn, shucked
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
I like roasting tomatillos, this intensifies their flavors and brings out more rounded aspects of the fruit. Spread them on a baking sheet with the onion slices, serranos and garlic cloves, and broil them for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them as they brown.
Once browned, dump the whole thing (there will be plenty of juices from the tomatillos) into a blender vessel and puree with the cumin, oregano, salt & pepper. Set aside.
In the meantime, season the pork with salt & pepper; in a medium-sized pan, heat the oil and then brown the pork pieces. Remove the excess fat from the pan, leaving enough to saute the extra cup of onions. Once the onions become translucent, add the pork, followed by the pureed tomatillo & pepper sauce.
If necessary, add enough water to ensure there’s enough liquid to cover the pork. Once it comes to a boil, bring the temperature to low, just so it is slowly simmering. Put a lid over it and allow it to simmer for about an hour or until the pork is tender.
Once the pork is fork tender, add the corn and cilantro, check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Allow it to cook for another 5 minutes or so, just long enough for the corn to soften. To serve, top with some radish raita and enjoy!
For the Radish and Red Pepper Raita:
1 cup radishes, julienned
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup crema fresca (creme fraiche)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
Combine all the ingredients and keep cool until ready to serve.