It was one of those perfect Saturdays. The sun was shining. The people at the farmers market were their friendly selves and we were able to get a million things done in the space of two hours. One of the reasons why we got our weekend errands done with such dispatch was because they were all in the same two block radius – Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue. While J got his hair cut, I went to the UPS store to ship off a quilt, the fabric store to get batting and the comic book store to see if the latest Uncanny X-Men came in.
I passed by Piedmont grocery and realized I could get fixings for dinner. If Whole Foods and the Shop Around the corner decided to have a love-child, it would be Piedmont Grocery. It’s a small grocery store that is halfway between a Trader Joe’s and a convenience store in size but it boasts an excellent butcher section and has an international foods section that puts World Market to shame. Looking to be inspired, I went to the meat section and remembered a great recipe for pork and tomatillo stew. Knowing that there was a canister of homemade tomatillo salsa in the fridge, I bought three pounds of pork shoulder (a steal at $3.00/pound), more tomatillos, and cumin.
Being new to cooking pork shoulder, I stayed close to the recipe, adjusting for the fact I had three pounds of meat instead of four. The only changes I did make was adding in the tomatillo salsa, replace the jalapeno pepper with a poblano, adding a couple of overripe tomatoes to roast with the tomatillos, and (gasp) using Maggi chicken stock powder instead of my own chicken stock.
It turned out wonderfully. For those of you who are wary of using pork, pork should is the perfect meat for braising. It turns out tender without being stringy (my biggest complaint for using chicken to braise) and full of flavor. The meat is well marbled without being fatty. And the flavor of the stew is amazing. We served the stew with tortilla chips, grated cheddar and sour cream along with some fresh cilantro. It was perfect!