Ellen sent an email asking if I would like some poblanos from her garden. I immediately thought of chile rellenos and answered with an enthusiastic yes, please. Don't ask me why chile rellenos were the first thing I thought of, I've never eaten or made them. But, what isn't to love about deep-fried cheese stuffed peppers? All I needed was a couple of hours to get them together.
Dinner has been anything but leisurely around here lately. I remember when the kids were little, 5 pm to 7 pm was nightmarish with crabby kids rioting while I was trying to prepare dinner. Fast forward 12 years and 5 to 7 is still the witching hour. No crabby kids this time, just various drop off/pick up assignments for four kids in three different sports. Dinner needs to be quick and ready when they get home or they may revert to their younger, riotous selves. So, I'm still a chile relleno virgin but the poblanos found another incarnation in the crock pot.
I became a relatively proficient crock pot cooker when we were renovating our kitchen in 2010. I didn't have a stove for 2 months but still had 5 kids who wanted to eat— necessity is also the mother of crock pot cookery. I learned a couple of things— always brown the meat, saute the aromatics (like onions, garlic, peppers) and don't add too much liquid (like wine, broth, tomatoes). Boston butt pork roast is my favorite for braising— full of piggy flavor and incredibly tender. Since the poblanos were driving the bus for this meal, I grabbed the tomatillos from the fridge and set out to make a south of the border braise.
Poblano & Tomatillo Pork with Cheddar Grits
Pork Braise 4 - 5 pound boston butt pork shoulder 3 tbsp olive or canola oil 3 medium onions, chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced 2 pounds fresh tomatillos or two 11 ounce cans of tomatillos 6 poblanos, chopped with seeds 3 tbsp cumin 1 1/2 tbsp Tajin Classico Seasoning 2 tbsp chipotle powder 2 tbsp ancho chile powder 1/2 tsp salt 3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Cheddar Grits 2 1/2 tbsp butter 1/2 onion, chopped 1 1/4 cup grits (I used Quaker Quick Grits) 2 cup whole milk 2 3/4 cup water 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar Salt and pepper to taste
Pork Season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper and brown all sides in 1 tbsp of oil over medium high heat. Place in crock pot. Add additional 2 tbsp of oil to sauté pan, add onions, garlic and poblanos and sauté for 7 - 10 minutes or until soft and onions are golden. Add tomatillos, cumin, Tajin, chipotle powder, ancho powder and salt and saute for another two or three minutes. Very carefully, add the tomatillo/pepper/onion mixture to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Pour over the pork in the crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours. Before serving, shred the pork, add the cilantro and serve over cheddar grits.
Cheddar Grits Saute onion in 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan until softened and golden. Add the water and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and slowly add the grits, stirring to combine. Cover and cook 12 - 14 minutes or until thickened. Add the shredded cheese and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, about another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.