Nopalitos con Trocitos de Puerco en Chile Verde
One of the gals at work brought "Cactus Soup" for lunch one day and asked if I wanted to try it. I had heard about people eating cactus but had never had the opportunity to taste it so of course I said yes! My main concern though, was....is the soup spicy? (I've said it once and I'll say it again...I'm a whimp!)
It was delicious!!!
When I asked for the recipe...little did I know that she would be giving me the old school version. From her mom! There aren't very many ingredients....and it is labor intensive at one point in particular. But well worth it!!!
Oh...are you wondering what cactus tastes like? Green beans! Imagine that!! I don't know what I expected but plain ole green beans wasn't it.
And where does one find this cactus besides someone's backyard? Most likely, a mexican market, in the produce section. I was able to buy it already scrubbed and de-clawed. They did have it with the thorns, but I'm not that brave. It's also sold in a jar...but I don't recommend it.
Pork Loin, chopped into bite sized chunks
Pork babyback spareribs, separated
1 bag of nopalitos
handful of cilantro5 jalapeno peppers
4 light green yellowish, mild peppers2 big tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp or more of dried oregano
broth or water
salt to taste
my addition: 12 oz can of beer (I had a 24oz can of coors light and had used 1/2 of it in a drink mix...so I had to use it up, right? and well....it went into the soup)
Now...there are several steps...you don't have to do them in this order.....but I will give you the directions one by one. It all comes together in the end.
Slice and dice your nopalitos.
Cover them with water in a large pot along with the 1/4 onion, whole garlic clove, 1 whole jalapeno and a handful of cilantro. Boil for about 30 minutes.
Drain and rinse....this process gets rid of all that slime :). Discard the onion, garlic, jalapeno and cilantro. (I know....boo hooo. But thats what the lady said...so thats what I did)
Place your whole tomatoes and the rest of the peppers on the "comal to tatemalos" (read: indoor grill or flat pan to toast).
Once the outer skin of the tomatoes and peppers is burned, remove from the burner and place them in a plastic bag to steam and soften. FYI, I didn't let the tomatoes toast enough. I had a hard time keeping them from rolling around
Ok...once those have steamed themselves silly, it's time to roll up your sleeve and get busy! Let them cool down and peel off the burned skin. (I also removed the core of the tomatoes and the stems and seeds from the peppers.) Place the tomatoes in a large plastic bowl, and using a plastic cup with a flat surfaced bottom....smash away. This is in place of using a tiny mortar and pestle. It would take ages and ages to pull that off. Don't use a food processor. You won't get the same results.
One by one, add the peppers and mash everything together until everything has dissolved into a fine "salsa".
I worked and smashed and the cup slipped and everything splattered (so glad I had a huge bowl!!!) and my arms got tired and it was getting hot....whew. Now thats old school!! But isn't it perty? We have now made chile verde. I think it should be a little greener? Maybe my tomatoes were too big? hmm
Ok, peel your potatoes, slice them in half length wise and then slice them...so they look like half moons. Fry them in a pan until golden brown.
Now, I didn't use the whole pork loin. I cut it in half and saved the rest for the next nights dinner. I don't have exact amounts for the meat....kinda play it by ear.
Pat your meat dry. In a separate large pot, brown the spareribs, remove from pan and then brown your pork loin.
I actually learned something from a movie. Remember Julie and Julia? Well, weren't we all told to pat the meat dry prior to browning? It works wonders!! Only takes a few minutes and is sooo worth it.
Ok...now we're ready for the home stretch. (I feel like I need to stand up and sing...."Take Me Out To The Ball Game" for the 7th inning stretch!!)
Put all the meat back into the pot, add your golden brown potatoes and oregano. Cook while stirring for a few seconds to release the flavors from the oregano. Then add the chile verde to the meat and deglaze the pan....cook and stir for a few minutes. Add your broth or water and maybe cerveza, enough to make it as thick or thin as you'd like. Salt to taste. Let simmer a bit until the meat is nice and tender. Towards the end, add the nopalitos to the soup and heat through.
Garnish with avocados, a dollop of sour cream and cilantro and enjoy the flavor of an authentic mexican soup.