1-1/2 tablespoons rich-tasting pork lard, olive oil or vegetable oil

a 3 pound boneless Boston butt pork roast, untied if in two pieces

1 pound(10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed

fresh hot green chiles to taste(roughly 3 serranos or 1 jalapeno),stemmed

1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 or 2 large sprigs epazote, plus extra sprigs for garnish, or 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish


10 small (about 2-1/2 pounds total) red-skin potatoes, scrubbed and quartered


1. Roast the tomatillos and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes.  Flip them over and roast on the other side – 4 to 5 minutes more will give you splotchy-black, blistered tomatillos and chiles that are soft and cooked through.  Cool (this is important – don’t try to blend hot liquids or you may have a steam eruption), then transfer everything to a food processor or blender, being careful to scrape up all the delicious juice that has run out onto the baking sheet.  Process until smoothly pureed.

2. Preheat the oven to 400*.  In a medium (4 to 5 quart) Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the lard or oil over medium heat.  When quite hot, lay in the pork loin. Brown well on all sides, about 10 minutes total.  Transfer pork to a plate. 

3.  Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.  Add ½ cup water and the pork, fattiest side up.  Cover, transfer to the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 325*.  Roast for 1 hour.

4.  When the hour has passed, remove the pot from the oven and remove the pork to a plate.  Raise the heat to medium high and, when the oil is really sizzling, add the tomatillo puree all at once.  Stir until noticeably darker and very thick, 3 to 4minutes.  Add the epazote or cilantro,  season to taste with salt (usually 1 teaspoon), and stir everything thoroughly.

5.  Nestle the pork into the warm sauce, cover the pot and set in the oven.  Cook for 30 minutes. While the pork is cooking, simmer the potatoes in heavily salted water to cover until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

6.  When the pork has cooked for 30 minutes, nestle the cooked potatoes into the sauce around the meat, re-cover and cook until the pork registers about 180* on a meat or instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes longer.

7.  With a pair of tongs and a spatula, transfer the pork to a cutting board.  Let it rest for 3 to 4 minutes while you finish the sauce.  Spoon off any fat on the top of the sauce, taste the sauce and season it with additional salt if necessary.  Spoon the sauce and potatoes onto a warm deep serving platter.  Cut the pork into ¼ inch thick slices and arrange them over the sauce.  Decorate with epazote or cilantro sprigs.

NOTE:  The pork can be browned and the sauce made a day ahead; refrigerate separately, well covered, until several hours before you’re ready to braise the pork.  Bring to room temperature before proceeding.  The meat will have the best texture if braised just before serving, though it will hold fine in a very low oven for half an hour.

adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexico One Plate at a Time

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