Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Calabasitas con Carne de Puerco

This is my favorite dish to order at El Taquito Cafe in east Dallas. I ordered it one day on a whim, knowing that you don't always see calabasitas on the menu at your standard Mexican restaurant. I noted the little chili pepper by it, indicating it was picoso. The waitress even remarked that it was spicy. No matter, I had to try it. And boy, was she right! This stuff is just beyond my threshold of heat tolerance but I simply could not. stop. eating it. I could feel the burn of the peppers in my stomach, but the falling apart pork and tender squash was too good. The heat just made it more interesting.
Now that we're living in Oak Cliff we don't make it to El Taquito as often as I would like, so I had to devise my own version of this favorite. Here is how I do it..

Calabasitas con Carne de Puerco
(printable recipe)

2 lbs. country style pork ribs
3 small new potatoes, diced
4 calabasitas, sliced into 1/2" thick rounds
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced*
1 serrano, minced*
5-6 tomatillos
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. comino
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 c chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste

Trim excess fat and bones from pork. Fry in a bit of oil until no longer pink, remove & saute chopped onion, garlic, & peppers. Meanwhile boil the tomatillos until they soften and set aside, save the water.
Puree the sauteed veggies & tomatillos.
Boil the potatoes about 10 minutes, not quite fork tender. Set aside.

Simmer the pork with the puree, spices, and chicken stock for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours until tender. Stir occasionally and add additional chicken stock if necessary. Add potatoes and sliced calabasitas. Simmer until sauce is reduced & calabasitas are soft and cooked through. Season with additional salt & pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh beans and plenty of hot tortillas.

*adjust spiciness to your liking. 2 peppers gives this dish just a slight burn, nothing like the original fire-breathing dish. This version has all the flavor and about 25% of the heat.

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