Shredded Pork in Tomatillo Sauce (a.k.a. Desperation Dinner)

Shredded Pork in Tomatillo Sauce

Oh, crap, what’s for dinner? How many times have I said that? Lots. How many times have you? Lots, too, I bet. It’s 5:00 p.m. and I haven’t been to the grocery store in a week. That means two problems, 1) I don’t know what I’m going to whip up for dinner, and 2) the tomatillos, Roma tomatoes, and avocado I bought last week are on their last legs. I bought them for a recipe but can’t remember which one or where it is. Time to brainstorm…but there’s another problem. What little else I do have in the house is frozen. Did I mention it’s only an hour and a half before dinnertime? There’s no time to defrost something before cooking. Instant Pot to the rescue! It’ll defrost and cook frozen meat in one fell swoop. I had some pork shoulder chunks left over from when I made meatballs a while back. The store didn’t have any ground pork, so I bought a piece whole & ground it myself. I didn’t need it all, so I froze the rest. Luckily, I still had a frozen jalapeño from last year’s garden, and some cilantro growing in my Aerogarden.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t make this exactly like I’ve written it here. Well, I might have. Or not. It’s clear from the photos that I added water after sautéing the onions. Which makes sense because after all, I never want those beautiful browned bits to go to waste. But I forgot to make a note of how much water I used. It was just one of those days, you know? I expect it was somewhere around ¾ cup (180 ml) to a full cup (240 ml). Insufficient liquid in the Instant Pot runs the risk of either not getting up to pressure, or burning the food, or both. Play it extra-safe, especially if you’re going outside to work in the garden while dinner cooks and won’t be there to notice if something goes wrong, and use a full cup (240 ml.) It will take a few minutes longer to reduce the sauce at the end, but safety is always worth a little extra time. While I’m doing the true confession thing, I might as well admit that yes, I have my Instant Pot sitting on the stove to take advantage of the vent hood. That’s a big no-no. Stories abound in which people melted their Instant Pots because they either forgot the stove was on or accidentally bumped it on. I don’t want to lose any of you to fire, so please do as I say, not as I do!

I used the avocado and one of the tomatoes to make Homemade Guacamole. Then I scrounged up a red onion and some citrus for Citrus-Pickled Red Onion With Jalapeño. All in all, a delicious meal with relatively little work and precisely zero prior planning! Sometimes, these last-minute dinners are all about eating, never mind enjoyment. Not great nutrition, mind you, at least the way I made it this time. Using pork shoulder instantly removes the “healthy” designation from this dish. My nutrition app (MyNetDiary) gives it a C. But swapping out the shoulder for tenderloin bumps it all the way up to an A. I’ve had good results making IP Carnitas with tenderloin, so I can’t see any reason it wouldn’t work here. You’d definitely want to use a whole cup (240 ml) of water in that case, to keep the meat from drying out.

Some of my “desperation dishes” never see the light of day again. They served their purpose but weren’t worth repeating. This one turned out to be worth saving and sharing with y’all. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

0 spts

1 pound (454 g) pork shoulder, cut up into large chunks, frozen (substitute pork tenderloin if you’re eating healthy).

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 tomatillos

1 Roma (paste) tomato

½ jalapeno pepper

1 small bunch (½ oz, or 15 g) cilantro (fresh coriander)

1½ teaspoon ground cumin, divided

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

½ teaspoon ground chipotle

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup water

Directions:

1.) Remove the husks from the tomatillos, then rinse and quarter them. Set aside.

2.) Quarter the tomato, scrape out most of the seeds with your thumb, and set aside with the tomatillos.

2 spts

3.) If you’re starting from a whole jalapeño, cut it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and membranes (leave in the membranes if you want more heat.) Add it to the tomatillos and tomatoes. Mine was already minced from making the guacamole, so I just added it later.

de-seed jalapeno

4.) Peel the garlic, and peel and quarter the onion. Place just the onion and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until finely chopped but not puréed.

4 spts

5.) Press “Sauté” on your Instant Pot, and use the “Adjust” button to set it to “Normal.” Add the oil, and give it a moment to heat up. Add the minced onion and garlic mixture, and cook just until they begin to soften, about one minute. Turn the pot off.

5 spts

6.) While the onions cook, put the quartered tomatillos, tomato, jalapeño half, and cilantro in the food processor bowl, and pulse until uniformly chopped but not puréed. Add the mixture to the Instant Pot.

7.) Crumble the oregano (if yours isn’t pre-ground). Add it, along with 1 teaspoon of the cumin, and the coriander, chipotle, salt, and water. Stir to combine, add the frozen block of meat, and press it down into the liquid. Lock the lid on the pot and close the steam vent. Press “Manual” or “Meat” on the IP, using the + or – button to set for 45 minutes and the “Adjust” button to set for high pressure. Expect about ten to fifteen minutes for the pot to reach pressure. When the cook time is done, allow a ten minute NPR (natural pressure release.) Turn the pot off. Release any remaining pressure by carefully opening the steam vent.

8.) Fish out the pork chunks and set aside. Press “Sauté.” Stirring frequently, let the sauce cook until it has thickened, about ten minutes.

8 spts

9.) While the sauce reduces, use two forks to shred the meat. When the sauce is nice and thick, stir in the last ½ teaspoon cumin. Return the shredded pork to the pot and gently stir to coat. Serve over rice with a garnish of Citrus-pickled red onion. It would also be yummy in burritos or quesadillas.

 

spwtsNutritionLabel
Made with pork shoulder

 

 

Tenderloin sptsNutritionLabel
Made with pork tenderloin

 

Shredded Pork in Tomatillo Sauce

Ingredients

1 pound (454 g) pork shoulder, cut up into large chunks, frozen (substitute pork tenderloin if you’re eating healthy).

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 tomatillos

1 Roma (paste) tomato

½ jalapeno pepper

1 small bunch (½ oz, or 15 g) cilantro (fresh coriander)

1½ teaspoon ground cumin, divided

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

½ teaspoon ground chipotle

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup water

Directions

1.) Remove the husks from the tomatillos, then rinse and quarter them. Set aside.

2.) Quarter the tomato, scrape out most of the seeds with your thumb, and set aside with the tomatillos.

3.)Cut the jalapeño in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and membranes (leave in the membranes if you want more heat.) Add it to the tomatillos and tomatoes.

4.) Peel the garlic, and peel and quarter the onion. Place just the onion and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until finely chopped but not puréed.

5.) Press “Sauté” on your Instant Pot, and use the “Adjust” button to set it to “Normal.” Add the oil, and give it a moment to heat up. Add the minced onion and garlic mixture, and cook just until they begin to soften, about one minute. Turn the pot off.

6.) While the onions cook, put the quartered tomatillos, tomato, jalapeño half, and cilantro in the food processor bowl, and pulse until uniformly chopped but not puréed. Add the mixture to the Instant Pot.

7.) Crumble the oregano (if yours isn’t pre-ground). Add it, along with 1 teaspoon of the cumin, and the coriander, chipotle, salt, and water. Stir to combine, add the frozen block of meat, and press it down into the liquid. Lock the lid on the pot and close the steam vent. Press “Manual” or “Meat” on the IP, using the + or – button to set for 45 minutes and the “Adjust” button to set for high pressure. Expect about ten to fifteen minutes for the pot to reach pressure. When the cook time is done, allow a ten minute NPR (natural pressure release.) Turn the pot off. Release any remaining pressure by carefully opening the steam vent.

8.) Fish out the pork chunks and set aside. Press “Sauté.” Stirring frequently, let the sauce cook until it has thickened, about ten minutes.

9.) While the sauce reduces, use two forks to shred the meat. When the sauce is nice and thick, stir in the last ½ teaspoon cumin. Return the shredded pork to the pot and gently stir to coat. Serve over rice with a garnish of Citrus-Pickled Red Onion With Jalapeño. It would also be yummy in burritos or quesadillas.

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