A spicy, fruity tomatillo sauce offsets the richness of bone-in pork ribs in this luscious dish from the state of Puebla.
- 4 oz. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 2 jalapeños, stemmed
- 2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 4 whole cloves garlic, peeled, plus 6 cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 lb. baby back pork ribs, cut into individual ribs
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 large white onion, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 2" x 12" batons
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Warm tortillas, for serving
Place tomatillos and jalapeños in a 4-qt. saucepan, and cover with water by 1". Bring to a boil over high heat; cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Drain vegetables, and set aside to cool to room temperature. Place in a food processor along with cilantro, sugar, and whole garlic, and pulse until finely chopped but not puréed; set sauce aside.
Bring pork and 4 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all water evaporates, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Continue cooking pork, stirring often, until it begins to caramelize on the outside, about 10 minutes. Add chopped garlic, oregano, and onion, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add sauce, and fry, stirring constantly, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until pork is tender and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Add zucchini, and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide pork and sauce among serving bowls and garnish with a drizzling of salsa, if you like. Serve with tortillas.
Selecting Tomatillos "When buying tomatillos to make dishes like the pork ribs in tomatillo sauce look for firm fruits with husks that cling tightly to the fruit. These contain the most juice and will not be mealy inside. And smaller ones will typically be more flavorful." —Iliana de la Vega, chef-owner of El Naranjo in Austin, Texas, and chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio