Early this spring, as the snow & ice settled into the Midwest, Jenn & I left behind the frozen tundra of Michigan to venture south. In the rear-view, the hustle & bustle of chilly city life, traded in for an adventure, a continent away, beyond my wildest dreams. From hiking volcanic mountain tops of the Andes, eating, drinking & dancing our way down the golden coastline of the South American Pacific, boating across the high seas onto a land before time – The Galapagos Islands, & back again into the mainland, deep into the heart of the Amazon Jungle.
Among the most inspirational components of our trip was the native fare – fresh, natural, untainted ingredients, harvested directly from the land. Raw | Smoked | Roasted | Grilled – The traditional herbs, spices, produce, heart & soul of Southern America melding into every dish – Enjoyed from the rooftops of Quito’s finest restaurants, to seaside pescal houses, & the rustic, earthy indigenous tribal huts of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
The snipets shared in this post follow the journey we took. An unexpected trek. Culminating in a day spent with the collective group of individuals who holistically inspired this recipe – The Kichwa Tribe, located in the far reaches of Ecuador’s eastern jungle.
A tribe reached only by hours of (guided) hiking through the dense forests of the Western Amazonas, ziplining across the waterfall-lined gorges of Banos, canoeing down the murky, raging rapids of the Amazon, finally arriving to the warm, welcoming faces of the Indigenous Kichwa Community.
This rustic chili recipe is loaded with succulent cuts of wood-smoked pork shoulder. Stewed with a cornucopia of chilies, a gorgeous dark beer (Ecuadorian Club Negro = Phenomenal), tender white beans, a garden of fresh greens, garlic & tomatillos. Then garnished & brightened with chopped avocado, cilantro, coarse ground peppercorn & a homemade lime-crème fraîche. A beautiful representation of the experience enjoyed along our trip through the central corridor & eastern portions of Ecuador.
¡Viva el fin de semana largo – Saludé!
Chile Verde con Cerdo Ahumado
- 1 5-7 pound bone-in pork butt shoulder, trimmed
- Cerdo Ahumado BBQ Dry Rub
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons ground peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Cerdo Ahumado Spray
- 1 cup dark stout beer
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup water
- Hardwood Smoker Packs
- 3-4 12- inch pieces of tin foil perforated
- 1 pound hardwood chips soaked in water 1 hour prior to grilling
- Puréed Chile Verde Base
- 6-8 fresh poblano peppers
- 15 ounces white beans
- Chili Verde
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 Spanish onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup spring onion chopped, plus additional for garnish
- 6-8 cloves garlic finely minced
- 12 ounces dark stout beer
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2-3 jalapenos finely chopped
- 2 Anaheim or New Mexican chilies thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 2 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cups tomatillos diced
- 2 15- ounce cans white beans rinsed and drained
- Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn to taste
- Chopped cilantro spring onion, avocado, sliced lime wedges and creme fraiche (or sour cream)
- Grilling Cerdo Ahumado BBQ: The evening before grilling, massage a liberal amount of dry rub across entire surface of the pork and then place it in an air-tight resealable plastic bag for 8 hours, up to overnight. Remove pork from refrigerator 2 hours before grilling and rest at room temperature, still sealed in plastic. Preheat grill to 250 degrees using the 2-zone grilling method (as detailed in notes below) and apply the first smoker packet over the hottest direct-heat grill grates, adding a new smoke packet every 60-90 minutes of grilling. Place pork butt over indirect cooler grates fat-side down. Rotate and spray intermittently to keep exterior moist. When the pork's internal temperature reaches 165 degrees wrap tightly in a double layer of tin foil. Place sealed meat back on the grill and cook until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees or until the bone can be easily pulled from the meat. Remove from grill, tent loosely with tin foil for 30-45 minutes. Then, using two forks, shred the meat. Set aside covered.
- Pork Butt Spray: Mix beer, oil and water in a spray bottle. Spray pork intermittently throughout grilling to assist in keeping meat moist and exterior crust development.
- Chili Verde Base: Meanwhile, place poblano peppers over direct heat of grill surface. Rotate intermittently until all sides of the peppers are charred. Remove from grill and peel blackened skin from peppers. Place peeled peppers in food processor along with a can of white beans. Pulse until smooth. Set aside.
- Chile Verde con Cerdo Ahumado: In a heavy bottom stock pot over medium-high heat saute Spanish onion, spring onion and garlic in vegetable oil. Once onion has begun caramelizing, pour in chile verde base, beer, stock, peppers, and seasonings, to taste. Cover pot with lid, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until liquid reduces by 2/3 or until the desired consistency is achieved. In the last 30 minutes of cooking add tomatillos and white northern beans. In last 10 minutes add shredded pork. Remove from heat, allow to cool briefly and serve. Garnish with cilantro, chopped spring onion, avocado, lime and a dollop of creme. Season to taste. Serve.
Creating a 2-Zone Grilling Surface over Gas: 1-burner grill – leverage the warming shelf, lined with tin foil, to remove the meat from direct contact with the grill grates. 2-burner grill – heat the right side to hot and leave the left side off. 3-burner grill – heat the far right side to hot, the middle to low-medium and the left side off. 4-burner grill – heat the two right zones to high and leave the two left zones off.
The black clay plates & bowls used in this photograph were given to me by the indigenous tribe members – Gorgeous detail & artistry in every etching of their work – pieces I will surely treasure for a lifetime.