3 pounds pork shoulder or pork loin, cut into chunks
8 to 10 tomatillos, loose peel removed, skin washed and chopped into large chunks*
4 to 5 Serrano chile peppers, discard stems but keep the seeds, cut in halves**
1 medium-size red tomato
2 to 4 whole garlic cloves (depending on your taste)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 large white onion
Coarse salt or sea salt
Olive oil, as needed
Whole head of Spinach leaves (approximately 4 to 6 cups leaves), washed and leaves torn
Chicken broth or stock, optional
Flour Tortillas (either purchased or homemade)***
* Tomatillos are also called "tomate verde" in Mexico (which means green tomato) and are considered a staple in Mexican cooking. Tomatillo is a member of the nightshade family, related to tomatoes. It now grows everywhere in the Western Hemisphere and is common in Texas gardens. The fruit of the tomatillo is green and about the size of a large cherry tomato. The inside is white and meatier than a tomato. They grow to maturity inside of a husk. They can range in size from about an inch in diameter to the size of apricots. They are covered by a papery husk which may range from the pale green color of the fruit itself to a light grocery-bag brown. The husks are inedible and should be removed before use.
** Serrano Chile Peppers: (suh rah noh) - The serrano chili pepper is a smaller version of the jalapeno, similar in color, but smaller, about 1 to 2 inches long, 1/2 inch wide. They are commonly red, brown, orange, or yellow. Moderate to very hot with an intense bite. Serrano chile peppers have thin walls, and they do not need to be steamed or peeled before using, making it the easiest chile pepper to use for salsas. The serrano is said to be about 5 times hotter than the jalapeno chile pepper.
Cooked Chile Pepper Hotness:
2 cooked Serrano chile peppers = mild spice (family friendly)
3 cooked Serrano chile peppers = medium spicy
4 to 5 cooked Serrano chile peppers = spicy hot!
Safety Warning: When handling hot chile peppers, do not let your skin come into contact with the seeds. It is recommended to wear gloves or generously cover your fingers with shortening or cooking spray. If the chile pepper seeds do come into contact with your skin, the seeds can create a burning sensation - do not rub your eyes!
*** Learn How To Make Homemade Flour Tortillas.
In a medium-size pot over medium-high heat, add the pork cubes with just enough water to cover the pork. Bring to a boil and cook until the pork is almost done. Remove from heat, drain off the water and discard; set the cooked pork aside.
In a separate pot, place the tomatillos, chile peppers, and red tomato. Fill the pot with just enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil over high heat. Let boil until the tomatillos start to turn a light yellow color and the skins roll off the tomatillos and tomato. Remove from heat and drain off the water and discard. Try not to lose all the seeds when draining off the water, as the seeds are part of the flavoring.
Add the tomatillo/pepper mixture, onion, and whole garlic cloves to the bowl of your blender; blend until pureed. Taste and add salt, if necessary. If you want a thinner consistency or need to reduce the spicy heat, some water can be blended in. You now have created your Verde Sauce. The Verde Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to small bowl; cover and chill until ready to use.
If you want to make a larger batch of Verde Sauce, the ratio of tomatillos to peppers is 2 to 3 tomatillos to 1 chile pepper (depending on the size of the tomatillo).
In a large pan over medium-high heat, drizzle olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once oil is heated, add chopped garlic cloves and pork. Cook until the pork chunks are browned on all sides. Pour in the prepared Verde Sauce and stir into the pork. Bring just to a boil and then turn the heat down to low. Cover with a lid and let simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Additional chicken broth may be added if the Verde Sauce cooks down too quickly.
Add the torn spinach leaves to the pork verde mixture right before you are ready to serve. Stir in the spinach and let cook down until the leaves starts to shrivel. Remove form heat.
Serve with Flour Tortillas, cooked beans, and rice (I like to serve the Pork Chile Verde with Cilantro Lime Rice). For the beans, I used canned pinto beans and let some shredded cheese melt on top for visual effect.
Makes 6 servings.