NewsRick Bayless's Braised Mexican Pumpkin

Posted Jan 25, 2013

By Rick Bayless, Green City Market Board Member Emeritus

Serves 4 as a small entrée or 6 as a hearty side dish.


For the Essential Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa:
  • 3-6 stemmed, dried chipotle chiles (or canned chipotle chiles en adobo)
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 8 ounces of tomatillos, husked and rinsed
For the braising liquid:
  • 12 ounces of ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or rich flavored lard
  • 1/2 lb. lean boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded and cubed (3/4 inch pieces) fresh pumpkin, preferably from a tan or green Mexican pumpkin


Making the Essential Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa:
  1. For dried chiles, toast them on an ungreased griddle or skillet over medium heat, turning regularly and pressing flat with a spatula, until very aromatic, about 30 seconds.  
  2. In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water. Canned chiles need only be removed from their canning sauce.  
  3. While chiles are soaking, roast the unpeeled garlic on the griddle or skillet, turning occasionally, until soft (they will blacken in spots), about 15 minutes; cool and peel.  
  4. Roast the tomatillos on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip and roast the other side.  
  5. Scrape the tomatillos (and their juices), rehydrated or canned chiles into a food processor or blender, and process to a rather fine-textured puree. Transfer to a bowl and stir in enough water (3-4 tbsp.) to give the salsa a medium consistency.  
Making the braising liquid:
  1. Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on one side, about 6 minutes, then flip and roast the other side.
  2. Cool, then peel and roughly chop, collecting any juices with the tomatoes.
  3. In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil or lard over medium-high heat. If you're using the cubed pork, fry it now, turning and scraping up bits of browned meat, until nicely golden all over, about 10 minutes; scrape into a small bowl leaving behind as much oil as possible.
  4. In the same skillet, fry the onion, stirring regularly, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatillo salsa (recipe above) and the tomatoes to the skillet, stir for several minutes as it all thickens and reduces, then stir in the broth or water. Taste and season with salt and sugar.
To finish:
  1. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the pumpkin cubes in an ovenproof baking/serving dish just big enough to hold them in about an inch-thick layer.
  3. Mix in the browned pork.  
  4. Pour the sauce over everything, cover with foil or a lid and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 40-45 minutes.
  5. Uncover, raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, bake until the sauce has reduced a little and the top is crusty, about 15 minutes longer.