Recipe Project #171: Asado de Puerco (or Pollo or Carne) a la Veracruzana

When we came home from San Antonio in early June, we hauled all of the Mexican cookbooks out of the cookbook bookcase and started paging through them, and then Mr. Husband also ordered up a copy of the truly marvelous Border Cookbook. It’s been all salsas and migas and tacos and enchiladas and chilaquiles around here. When he came home from the butchers with a very nice bone-in pork butt last week, we immediately decided to make it into Asado de Puerco a la Veracruzana from Diana Kennedy’s The Essential Cuisines of Mexico since we already had all the other ingredients. (We became people who always have banana leaves in the freezer back when we became addicted to Puerco Pibil.) I made up the two separate but simple marinades, rubbed it all into the meat, and then wrapped it up until it looked like this:

And then it went into the fridge for a day, and then into an oven for awhile, and then it was marvelous. We wondered if the marinade would translate well to a whole chicken, particularly one cooked in a cast iron dutch oven over coals. It does. We ate the chicken breasts the first day, and then the rest of it became various sorts of chicken enchiladas and a big batch of broth that is now bagged in the freezer for future reference. Today, we’re trying it with a chuck roast, and I suspect it will be just as marvelous.

5 pounds (2.5 kg) pork roast on the bone, preferably butt
6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 ancho chiles, seeds and veins removed
4 morita chiles, or 1 chipotle or 1 mora
½ cup (250 ml) water, approximately
4 whole allspice, crushed
Banana leaves sufficient to wrap the roast in a double layer

Pierce the meat all over with the point of a sharp knife. (Or pierce it with a jacquard.) Mash the garlic with the salt and moisten with the lime juice. Rub this mixture thoroughly into the roast and set aside to season while you prepare the chile mixture.

Lightly toast the ancho chiles on a hot griddle or comal. Cover them with hot water, add the whole, untoasted morita chiles, and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the chiles to soak for 5 minutes longer.

Transfer the chiles to a blender jar with the water. Add the allspice and blend until smooth. Add a little more water only if necessary to release the blades of the blender.
Coat the meat liberally with the chile paste. Hold the banana leaf over a hot heat until it softens and wrap it around the meat. Let the meat season overnight in the refrigerator. (If you are not using the banana leaf, simply leave the meat unwrapped.)

Preheat the oven to 325 F (165 C) [or prepare your coals.] Please the meat in a dutch oven or casserole with a tightly fitting lid and bake for 2 hours, by the end of which time there should be plenty of juices at the bottom of the casserole. Remove the lid and continue cooking the meat, basting it from time to time, for about 2 hours longer, or until soft.

Serve hot, with fresh corn tortillas.

Note: Rather than reheating this pork the next day, Kennedy prefers to eat it cold. We also found this to definitely be the case, and it makes excellent cold pork sandwiches. It does not freeze well, she writes.

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