Yum Peaceful Cooking: Nopalitos con Trocitos de Puerco en Chili Verde

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nopalitos con Trocitos de Puerco en Chili Verde

Nopalitos con Trocitos de Puerco en Chile Verde
"Platillo Zacatecano"

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
1/4 onion
handful of cilantro
5 jalapeno peppers
4 light green yellowish, mild peppers
2 big tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
2 potatoes
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.

I don't know if you can see it....but the inside of these nopalitos are slimy. Reminds me of okra.

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)

Next phase....

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.


  1. I first tasted cactus when we were in Mexico some 20 yrs ago and you're right it does taste like green beans, slightly lighter taste though. I loved it too!

  2. You know you're speaking my language now, right? Man, you did an awesome job :) This is the kind of food we eat around here most often...so, I'll bring the tequila and we can do margs this time :)!

  3. I've wondered what that tastes like. I always thought it would be slimey. But your version looks quite tempting.

  4. Ill bring the dessert if you provide this and girlichef is bringing the drinks.

    Id love to try it, Ive never even heard of it!!

  5. I like the addition of the beer. Excellent step by step description and I like the tip on smashing the maters.

  6. Never would have thought cactus tasted like green beans! I watched some chef using it on Top Chef- he soaked it in salted water to remove the slime. He was the only one who knew how to do it.

  7. Cactus?????Interesting....I love all the flavors,That looks absolutely delicious. I love pork.

  8. How intriguing!!! Wow I would have never thought that cactus would taste like green beans!

  9. Cactus soup is a new one for me, but it sure does look good!

  10. I lived in the Sonora desert for eleven years and never once ate cactus! After I moved back to NY I won a cactus cookbook. Ironic. How cool that it tastes like green beans - this looks really good - love that you added beer!

  11. How fun! I've never tasted cactus. I would never have thought it would taste like green beans! Nice job on this. It beautiful! :D

  12. This soup looks fresh and delicious. I have never had the opportunity to taste cactus but, I know I would not pass up the opportunity.
    Since, girlichef is bringing the tequila and Donna is bringing the dessert, what do you say if i bring the appetizers along with some good Mexican beer? This would be a great party.

  13. i've eaten cactus more than a few times, and it always adds so much to whatever it's in. this is an amazing creation from start to finish, and i LOVE the fact that avocado is involved too. :)

  14. Wild! I have never seen the cactus up here. We deserately need Mexican markets in Canada!

  15. Michelle - good stuff huh :)

    Heather - margs it is!! and of course thats what I was drinking while making this soup!

    Linda - It is slimy if you don't boil it or rinse it. The stuff in the jar is really really slimy. ack LOL

    Donna - you're on!! bring the dessert...wooo hooo

    Chris - ya, I couldn't leave the rest of that 24oz'er in the fridge to get all flat, now could I?

    Barbara - I know, green beans? I was so pleasantly surprised.

    Erica - Yes, cactus!! LMAO!!

    FLB - sooo, are you brave enough to try it? :D

    Cathy - I think you'd like it.

    Reeni - there's a cookbook just for cactus? how funny! so, have you made anything from it?

    Ungourmet - thank you :)

    Vevla - oh ya....it's official, we're having a party!!!

    Grace - you can't have mexican food without avocado, can you. it just doesn't seem right

    Natashya - oh man, I don't know what i'd do without a mexican market! I bet Cactus freezes well I know okra does and okra is more slimy than this cactus.

  16. I have eaten cactus but have never cooked with it. Our Latin Market has it with the thorns. ;-(

    This looks delicious--loving all the pork.

  17. OOOOO That looks Delicioso!!! I have only had Cactus after it has been pickled... I will have to try this.

  18. I would have never guessed cactus tasted like green beans. How fun.

  19. I couldn't find cactus over here if my life depended on it :))
    but now I see why you said the preparation was long and labourious.
    That was really a hearty meal.

  20. Dani... this looks so frickin good!!!!

    I was just getting into cooking more interesting things when I moved away from San Diego... one thing I wished I had tried was cactus!

    I'm so jealous!

  21. Saw your comment on my post about missing Souper Sunday. Shoot me an email if you want me to include your great soup in this week's round-up.


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