Posted in A Whole Lotta Spice!, Restaurant Hopping

In Which a Deceptively Innocent-looking Dish Actually Packs a Fiery Punch…

Chile Verde con Arroz Mexicana
Chile Verde con Arroz Mexicana

Yes, the dish above looks like a plate of, say, old-school adobo with what appears to be standard-issue Java rice.  Truth be told, however, this particular lunch combo was plenty incendiary.

This is Cantina Deliciosa‘s version of chile verde, fatty pork stewed in a mixture of green chilies and tangy tomatillos till fork-tender and totally infused with fresh flavors and a palpable hit of fiery heat.

A common enough dish both north and south of the Mexican border, chile verde is something like an alternative for chile-heads (people addicted to classic, robustly red chile con carne) who want something lighter but still packing in serious heat.  Wikipedia describes it as:

…is a moderately to extremely spicy Mexican and Mexican-American stew or sauce usually made from chunks of pork that have been slow-cooked in chicken broth, garlictomatillos, and roasted green chilis. Tomatoes are rarely used. The spiciness of the chili is adjusted with poblano, jalapeño, serrano, and occasionally habanero peppers.

The Cantina version certainly runs true to form.  The cut of meat used is fatty pork leg.  Now, pork leg can be tough and greasy if cooked improperly – as, alas, many Filipino cooks are guilty of doing (certainly not at my house, thank goodness!) – but this version has been either slow-cooked for hours on end or perfectly pressure-cooked so that it soaks up some of the broth it was cooked in.  It, thus, becomes succulent and spicy, practically falls apart when prodded with a fork, as a matter of fact.  As shown above, the meat also gets a fairly good splash of broth when served – and it is, indeed, good stuff: it is deliciously tangy with the fresh, green taste of proper tomatillos, the zip of jalapeno, and the rather grassy hint of cilantro that brings out the sweetness of both of the first two ingredients.  It is, to be frank, both sharp and smooth, fiery yet soothing all at the same time.

Paired with the Mexican rice, it plays out very well: the mildly-sweet and savory taste of the pork working well with the cumin-and-tomato broth in which the rice was cooked.  All the aromatics play out beautifully: the sweetness of the onions, the musky hit of garlic, the floral cilantro, and the dusky overlay of cumin all help bring the dish into a harmonious, balanced whole.

Given how I currently have a cold, I seriously doubted if I could appreciate the flavors of this dish, but I am pleased to report that it cleared me up nicely so I was able to appreciate this hot and homey bit of Mexican cooking.


Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended in June 2016 These days, she works full time at Philippine Tatler as a features writer under the nom de guerre Marga Manlapig. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel. Follow her on Instagram at @midgekmanlapig.

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