Now that we are fully vaccinated, I have started meeting some of my friends, for an afternoon coffee, or lunch, but with only one at a time, and either at their or my home, not at restaurants. I had not seen my dear friend Krysia since the pandemic began, so we had a lot of catching up to do; we talked on the phone, then I invited her over for lunch. I prepared her favourite stew: pork in morita sauce, which is enjoyed all over Mexico, but particularly in the states of Veracruz and Puebla. I have used morita peppers before, so I had some at home; because they are the ensign of this dish, I offer no substitutions, but I have listed three possible sources to order them online, at the end of this post. This dish sometimes calls for potatoes, but I had a batch of blanched sliced sunchokes (see my previous post for story and method), so I included them here:
The classic recipe is made with bone-in pork riblets, but the important feature is to pick a cut with some fat; I chose bone-less pork shoulder, cut into cubes.
Pork in Morita Sauce – Puerco en salsa de morita
Ingredients (6 portions)
2 lb (907 g) pork meat with some fat, cut into one-inch pieces, such as riblets, or boneless shoulder.
2 cups cooked cubed potatoes, or blanched sliced sunchokes
6-8 morita peppers; wiped clean, stems removed
¼ white onion; peeled
2 cloves garlic; peeled
1 lb (454g) tomatoes, or a mix of tomatoes and tomatillos; tomatillo husks removed, all washed
1 tbsp oil
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt, or to taste
Water, as needed
Set up ingredients for sauce: I used a mix of tomatoes and tomatillos, and had two sizes of morita peppers (the large ones are called mora, sometimes), so I used four of each; then I measured and prepared oil, spices, salt, garlic, and onion:
In a frying pan over medium heat, warm up the oil, then add onions, garlic and morita peppers; turn frequently to avoid burning (photo below, left). Continue cooking just until the peppers swell, and the onion and garlic are lightly browned; remove pan from heat, then transfer onions and garlic to a blender jar and reserve, and place peppers in a pot with water over high heat. Score a cross at the bottom of the tomatoes, and add to the pot, along with the tomatillos (photo below, right):
Bring water to boil, and cook ingredients in the pot; remove tomatillos as soon as they start to change colour, and transfer to the blender jar. Remove tomatoes once the skin begins to peel (photo below, left); remove and discard skins and stem spots from tomatoes, cut in half, and then place in the blender jar, as well. Continue cooking peppers for one more minute, then turn off heat and allow them to soak and cool down (photo below, right):
Once the peppers have cooled down for a few minutes, add to the blender jar; add spices, salt, and one cup of the soaking water (photo below, left). Blend everything for at least one minute, to obtain a very smooth sauce (photo below, right):
In a large and wide pan, arrange cubed pork in a single layer, then add one cup of water (photo below, left). Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium, and cover (photo below, right):
Cook for forty five minutes to one hour, until meat is well done and very tender. Remove cover and continue cooking, turning meat occasionally; as the water evaporates, rendered fat from the meat will aid in browning (photo below, left). Once the meat is browned, but not too crispy, pour in reserved sauce (photo below, right):
Incorporate sauce and meat, then add cooked cubed potatoes (or blanched sunchoke slices, photo below, left). Pour one more cup of soaking water in the blender jar, to collect any sauce left, then pour into the pan (photo below, right):
Adjust seasoning with more salt, to taste, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another twenty minutes, until all the flavours have melded together, and the sauce has thickened slightly:
Serve with warm corn tortillas. I thought the sunchokes were not squandered when mixed in with the sauce, but to feature them even more, they may be roasted and served on the side; some other recommended sides could be (click on highlighted text for my recipes): Mexican style rice (arroz a la mexicana), beans from the pot (frijoles de olla), or pear squash and cream (chayotes con crema).
This dish was not hard to put together, and proved to be enjoyable for a wide variety of palates: My friend (Costa Rican/Mexican) loved the dish, and we had the best lunch time; I packed an itacate (portable packed food, “doggy bag”), and her husband Christian (who is German) enjoyed it very much, too. My husband (Cypriot Canadian) had a taste the next day, and he really liked the tenderness of the meat and the balance of flavours, which is great, because Mexican red sauces sometimes instigate negative reviews, and are a hit-and-miss with him (this was a definite hit!)
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I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #518, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.