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Tapado de Cerdo (Smothered Pork)

 

 

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Tapado de Cerdo

(Smothered Pork)
Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz
The James Beard Celebration Cookbook:
Memories and Recipes From His Friends
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By the James Beard Foundation, Edited by Barbara Kafka,
1990, Wings Books

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“I remember very vividly cooking this for Jim. Michael Field was also a guest
and though I am a notorious chatterer I spent that evening listening. The two
were deeply interested in the food from every possible aspect – history, which involved the Spanish conquest; food origins, which involved the birth of agri-
culture in the valley of Mexico about 7000 B.C.; geography, which involved
the effect of altitude since this high-plateau dish would be cooked at almost
eight thousand feet; and, of course, taste, as the dish uses Old and New World
ingredients in a rather exuberant mix. I think Jim knew almost all there is to
be known about food. He did say to me, shortly before his death, that the thing
he loved most about working in food is that he never stopped learning;
certainly his enthusiasm never flagged…
This dish is typical of the exuberance of the Mexican Colonial kitchen when
the Aztecs, who were considerable gourmets, combined their own foods with
the foods brought in by the Spaniards. Jim liked its robust character.”

6 pasilla chilies
3 pounds boneless pork loin or shoulder,
cut into 2-inch chunks
2 teaspoons salt
3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
5 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
3 chorizo sausages, skinned and roughly chopped
4 ounces boiled ham, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, halved
1 large onion (about 12 ounces),
peeled and finely chopped
3 large tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds),
peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 10-ounce can Mexican green tomatoes (tomatillos)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry Sherry

Rinse chilies under cold water. Remove stems, seeds, and veins. Tear into pieces and place in small bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to soak, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until they are soft. Reserve
in water while finishing recipe.
Place pork in a large pan and cover with water and salt. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, or until meat is tender. Remove pan from heat, drain the meat, and reserve
in large heavy casserole. Discard the water.
Drain chilies, reserving the soaking water, and puree with garlic in a blender
or food processor until smooth. If necessary, use a little of the water to
make a paste.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil or lard in a heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add paste and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and stir into the reserved pork.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the skillet and cook sausage, stirring, over moderate heat for about 4 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from heat, drain off fat and discard, and scatter over pork along with ham, almonds, and olives.
Heat the remaining oil or lard in the skillet over moderate heat. Cook onion
for about 3 minutes until soft. Stir in the tomatoes and green tomatoes with
their liquid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes until mixture is
thick and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over
meat in casserole and finish with Sherry.
Cover casserole with lid and cook over moderate heat for about 25 minutes, shaking the casserole occasionally to prevent the meat at the bottom from sticking. Serve with rice, freshly made tortillas, and guacamole.
Serves 6 to 8.
 

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