Many years ago my husband Kurt and I took a trip to an all inclusive resort in Manzanillo, Mexico. In my opinion, when you travel with children all inclusives are stress free and a great alternative. When you are traveling as a couple all inclusives can feel a little stifling. After being in the all inclusive for several days, my husband couldn’t drink one more Pina Colada. He decided we should rent a car and go on a driving adventure. We walked from our resort and headed to a car rental shop. We rented the owner of the shop’s car for a day. I recall the car was half truck, half car and had been welded together with low rider tires. There were no shocks on the car so we had a bouncy ride as we drove into the town of Colima, where I found inspiration for a pork and tomatillo stew.
Colima was a very bustling town. I remember visiting the Plaza and they had a lovely cathedral. We visited a regional museum and there was a main square with a fountain. As we walked the streets there were vegetable stalls and food vendors. I remember being very impressed with the variety of chillies in each of the vendors stands. It was in Colima where I first saw a tomatillo. Tomatillos are like small green tomatoes but they are covered in a papery husk. The taste of a tomatillo is similar to a green tomato — a little acidic, tart and bright. When you have green salsa the base of the salsa is very often tomatillos mixed with cilantro, jalapeño and lime.
The unique part of the recipe is that hails from Colima, supposedly, and it uses tomatillos, but you cook the stew with the husks on the tomatillos, which gives it a rustic flavor and supposedly the husks help thicken the stew as well, even though you pick them out before serving. This pork and tomatillo stew can be served on rice or alongside sautéed greens like kale or Swiss chard sprinkled with a squeeze of lemon juice as served in the picture.
Pork and Tomatillo Stew
2 lbs meaty country style Pork spareribs (ideally you can buy these at the butcher already cut into 2-3 inch pieces if your ribs are larger you can cut them in half yourself)
2 dried ancho chiles
1 cup water
1 peeled clove garlic
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
8-10 medium tomatillos with husks on well rinsed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Put the ribs in a large saucepan or dutch oven and barely cover with water.
Add salt and boil for 10 minutes.
Prepare the dried chiles by removing the stalks and splitting them open and discarding any seeds and veins.
Put the chiles into a small saucepan and cover with hot water. Simmer for 5 minutes to soften the chiles. Remove from heat and let soak for another 5 minutes.
Get out your blender, food processor or Vitamix. Put in 1/2 cup water. Add the garlic, onion and cumin and pepper and blend thoroughly. Add the rest of the water and the chiles and blend thoroughly. Add this mixture to the ribs.
Cut the tomatillos into quarters, leaving the husks intact and add them to your rib, sauce mixture.
Cook your rib, sauce mixture uncovered until the meat is tender, the sauce is reduced, about 45 minutes.
The sauce will be quite thick and coat the back of a wooden spoon when it is finished. Serve over rice or pile greens around the stew on a serving platter. If you notice large pieces of tomatillo skins when serving you can pull those out, most will have broken down into the sauce but sometimes a few stay more intact.