In this day and age when so much in life seems to be driving people apart rather than closer together, we should never underestimate the power of food to bring people to the table with open minds and hearts.
That’s the spirit behind the wonderful new cookbook, “Feed Your People: Big-Batch, Big-Hearted Cooking and Recipes to Gather Around” (PowerHouse Books) by Leslie Jonath with 18 Reasons.
Jonath, a former editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco, has teamed with 18 Reasons, a San Francisco non-profit that not only strives to teach people the importance of good food, but offers a free six-week nutrition education program in low-income communities on how to make healthy and affordable meals.
The cookbook features recipes by some of the most well-known names in the food industry, including Bay Area cookbook author Andrea Nguyen’s “Chinese Dumplings,” Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters’ “Minestrone,” Tartine co-founder Elizabeth Prueitt’s Whole-Loaf Garlic Cheese Bread,” and pastry doyenne Alice Medrich’s “Ultimate Butter Cake.”
Each recipe is designed to feed a crowd. In fact, each ingredients list has a dual one to follow easily if you want to double the recipe. What better excuse to invite friends, family and neighbors around the table, right?
Chef Traci Des Jardins contributes her “Grandma Salazar’s Chile Verde.” Des Jardins, who owns half a dozen restaurants in San Francisco, including Jardiniere and The Commissary, grew up enjoying her grandmother’s soulful chile verde on a regular basis. Her grandmother, who was born in Mexico, knew how to stretch a relatively inexpensive cut of pork like shoulder (butt) to feed a hungry family deliciously.
In this traditional favorite, the pork gets braised for two hours with a mountain of tomatillos, onions, garlic, and poblano peppers. The stew is brothy and imbued with that wonderful tangy, grassy, green flavor its famed for. The pork pieces cook up incredibly tender, too.
Ladle it into bowls, and serve a stack of griddled tortillas alongside. It’s party food — made for a gathering that’s all about taking it easy and basking in the company you’re with.
Traci Des Jardins’ Grandma Salazar’s Chile Verde
4 pounds boneless pork butt (shoulder)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and quartered
1 pound Anaheim or poblano chiles, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups chicken stock, or as needed
Trim the pork of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Spread the pork on half sheet pans and season generously with the salt and several grinds of pepper. Sprinkle with the flour and toss until coated.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil and, working in batches, fry the pork until golden brown on all sides. Using tongs, transfer to a sheet pan.
When all of the meat has been browned, add the tomatillos, chiles, onions, and garlic to the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the vegetables are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
Return the meat to the pot and add the cilantro, cumin, and oregano. Pour in enough stock just to cover the meat, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a gentle boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender, about 2 hours. Serve hot.
Notes: This recipe can be doubled to serve a big crowd. The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. To make this dish gluten-free, it’s fine to just omit the flour. Start the meal with tortilla chips and guacamole with salsas. Serve the stew with warm tortillas and a green salad.
From “Feed Your People” by Leslie Jonath with 18 Reasons
More Recipes Featuring Tomatillos: Chicken Adobo Tacos